On August 25th, 2020, Kyle Rittenhouse killed two people and injured one following a protest over the murder of Jacob Blake at the hands of police officers. You may remember this story circulating last summer, specifically the photo of him carrying an AR-15 and not being stopped by police. In November, Rittenhouse stood trial for six criminal charges, including intentional homicide, attempted intentional homicide and possession of a dangerous weapon by a minor. Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges with the defence that he was acting in self-defence.
While the trial had multiple key highlights, the most viral moment was Rittenhouse breaking down crying over his regretting what he had done. Safe to say that he does not look like he regrets anything now and has become a so-called symbol of the second amendment and the right to self-defence. Rittenhouse was even recently invited on Fox News and interviewed by Tucker Carlson over the trial and the events that took place.
When looking at second amendment rights, self-defence is the main argument in its defence. That people need guns for home invasions and possible threats; however, the problem with this is that possible threats are not necessarily actual threats. In the case of Rittenhouse, who claims he was defending a car dealership, everyone he shot was not armed and, in fact, attempting to get the gun away from him. This is not a clear case of self-defence. When you look at previous trials of marginalized people going to prison for self-defence, it is easy to remember that the justice system was a system built to benefit people that look just like Rittenhouse.
As a runaway, Cyntoia Brown was forced into prostitution in 2005 at the age of sixteen. Johnny Mitchell Allen was forty-three and hired Brown for sex. Brown feared for her life after the man revealed his gun collection to her, and when her resisting him did not work, she shot him. During the trial, Brown’s defence was evidently self-defence, while prosecutors used her status as a runway to say that she killed Allen to rob him. Cyntoia Brown was tried as an adult, convicted of first-degree murder, and sentenced to life in prison. She was only recently released after spending fifteen years behind bars. That is because her story went viral on Twitter, and many celebrities called for her release, including Kim Kardashian.
It is also worth noting that recently the murderers of Ahmaud Arbery attempted to defend themselves in court using the claim of self-defence just like the Rittenhouse case, and that did not work. The trial of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery was justice served, yet despite this, racially motivated murders are still on the rise. For every white man convicted of murder, so many more are acquitted.
Cyntoia Brown was a child forced into sex work, and Rittenhouse is a self-proclaimed defender of rights. You should not be surprised that the system chose to protect Rittenhouse and people just like him; it was built to do exactly that. The only way to rise above this would be a complete reform of this justice system designed to uphold white supremacy ideals.
By Isabella Del Grosso