Socialist Worker

After Rittenhouse verdict—‘no justice, no peace’

The rigged trial of Kyle Rittenhouse means an explosion of anger, reports Sophie Squire

Issue No. 2781

A supporter of Kyle Rittenhouse

A supporter of Kyle Rittenhouse (Pic: Lightburst/Wikimedia)


Far right gunman Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot and killed two men and wounded another during a protest in the US against racist cops last year, was found not guilty of all charges on Friday.

The most violent fascistic forces that cluster around Donald Trump’s wing of the Republicans will see the verdict as an invitation to attack black people, anti-racists and the left.

It is a return to injustice as usual following the temporary blip of Derek Chauvin being found guilty of murdering George Floyd.

Small groups of protesters took to the streets immediately in Brooklyn, Chicago, Portland, Oakland, Boston, and Columbus, Ohio.

In Brooklyn, where around 300 demonstrated, protester Sean Stefanic told the New York Times, “The fact that we are not surprised by this is the reason I am here.

“Because it is not surprising anymore, despite the past year, especially after the George Floyd tragedy.”

Saman Waquad said she worried the verdict would encourage the far right even more to carry weapons. “What does this mean for civil disobedience,” she asked. “Does it mean we cannot safely protest anymore?”

“I didn’t expect there to be full justice, but not guilty on all charges was a slap in the face,” she added. “If this was a black or brown kid, he or she would be dead right now.”

Guilty

In Columbus, Ohio, about 150 protesters gathered outside the statehouse, chanting “The whole damn system is guilty as hell”, "No justice, no peace", and “Send that killer kid to jail”.

in Portland, Oregon, protesters forced open a jail gate. In Oakland, California, a crowd marched from the city hall to the federal building, shouting "Revolution, nothing else".

Rittenhouse was charged with homicide after killing Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber at a protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on 25 August 2020. It was organised in response to the racist shooting of Jacob Blake by white police officer Rusten Sheskey two days before.

The demonstration was part of the great wave of Black Lives Matter (BLM) revolt against police brutality and racism in the US.

Rittenhouse’s acquittal came after a charade of a trial. The right-wing judge hollowed out the prosecution by excluding evidence that would have challenged Rittenhouse’s claim that he was acting in “self-defence.”

Judge Bruce Schroeder ruled that the words “victims” or even “alleged victims” could not be used to describe Rosenbaum or Huber in the courtroom.

But he did allow the defence to call them “arsonists”, “rioters”, or “looters”. Schroeder also disregarded evidence that Rittenhouse was a supporter of far right ideas.

Before the killings in Kenosha, ­Rittenhouse openly announced that he was ready to shoot shoplifters with his assault rifle.

Pictures

After he was freed on bail he was seen flashing “white power” signs and posing for pictures with Proud Boys members.

Schroeder said that there was no connection between “wishing to shoot shoplifters” and the killing of protesters. Last week Schroeder’s phone rang in court, with Lee Greenwood’s, God Bless the USA as the ringtone. The song has been adopted by supporters of Donald Trump, who used it at rallies.

Trump has mobilised a dangerous far right movement—it won’t be beaten by the Democrats, the state or the ‘centre ground’
Trump has mobilised a dangerous far right movement—it won’t be beaten by the Democrats, the state or the ‘centre ground’
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While the BLM movement was still on the streets Trump told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” during a presidential debate.

He added that “somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left.”

After the attack Trump backed Rittenhouse, telling the media that he had acted in “self-defence”.

In a memo that was later leaked, Trump informed Homeland Security officials to make clear that Rittenhouse “took his rifle to the scene of the rioting to help defend small business owners”. Republican representative Majorie Taylor Greene also defended Rittenhouse in a tweet.

She said, “He is more of a man than the pundits and blue ­checkmarks that claim He/Him in their profiles that are attacking.”

After the verdict, Matt Gaetz, a Republican congressman from Florida and a Trump ally, said he wanted to offer the teenager an internship.

Paul Gosar, a Republican lawmaker from Arizona, said he would “arm-wrestle” Gaetz to hire Rittenhouse. Gosar was censured last week by the House of Representatives for posting a video to social media depicting him killing left wing Congress member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The Rittenhouse verdict is another example of a rigged and racist judicial system.

A Boston Globe newspaper investigation found that “between George Floyd’s death on 25 May 2020 and 30 September 2021, vehicles drove into protests at least 139 times”, injuring at least 100 people.

In fewer than half of the cases, the driver was charged, and only four drivers have been convicted of a felony.

Even worse, in response to these attacks, Republican legislators have proposed laws to protect the drivers from legal action in case they hit a protester. Florida, Iowa, and Oklahoma have already passed such laws.

Meanwhile, a verdict is expected next week in the murder trial of the three white men who ran down and killed Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia in February 2020.

Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan each face charges of felony murder, aggravated assault and false imprisonment.

State tried to derail Black Lives Matter
State tried to derail Black Lives Matter
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The McMichaels told police they suspected Arbery was a burglar. Prosecutors say there’s no evidence Arbery had committed any crimes.

McMichael, who fired the fatal shot, claimed that Arbery forced him to make a split-second “life-or-death” decision by attacking him and grabbing his shotgun.

The prosecution this week confronted McMichael with the fact that after the killing he had not told police at first that he and his father were trying to make a citizen’s arrest, which is now his defence.

McMichael admitted that the unarmed Arbery never presented a threat to him.

A defence attorney caused outrage this week when he said he didn’t want “any more black pastors” sitting in the courtroom with Arbery’s family.

He asked the judge to remove Al Sharpton, saying the civil rights activist was trying to influence the jury. The judge refused.

The only way to achieve lasting change is to revive the BLM protests that saw up to 26 million people on the streets in the US and millions more worldwide.

 


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