The Verdict is in; Kyle Rittenhouse Found Not Guilty on All Counts


Sean Krajacic

Rittenhouse confers with his attorney during the trial.

Elena Bryden, Contributing Writer

Kenosha, Wisconsin, August 25th, 2020; a then 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse shot and killed two people and injured one more.
It began when protesters took to the streets of Kenosha after a white police officer shot Jacob Blake, who is Black, in the back seven times. The protests were interrupted by rioters who incited violence and looted several local businesses. As the scene unfolded, Kyle Rittenhouse, along with several other armed militia members, arrived in Kenosha, equipped with an AR-15 style rifle, claiming that he was there to protect the local businesses in Kenosha and to provide first-aid. That night, Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Hauber, and injured Gaige Grosskruetz.
Rittenhouse was charged with five counts, including first-degree reckless homicide, two counts of first-degree reckless endangerment of safety, first-degree intentional homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide, and a sixth count of possession of a dangerous weapon under 18 that was dropped before the end of the trial.
After 26 hours of deliberation, the verdict, delivered last Friday, November 19th, was not guilty on all charges. Prosecutors argued that Rittenhouse was the instigator of violence, while the defense claimed he acted in self-defense.
The trial has fueled vitriolic debates on gun control, vigilantism, and bias in the courtroom.
Many, from celebrities to politicians to students at Hingham High School, have weighed in on the verdict. Supporters of Rittenhouse, who are mostly right-leaning, hail him as a hero and vigilante, feeling that his actions were within his rights as an American. Others, including HHS Junior Grace Desai, feel differently.
Desai notes that the verdict “Sets a certain precedent for our country—one that tells white people that they can break the law, carry around weapons and kill people without consequence.” As for Rittenhouse’s claims for self-defense, she feels that “The claims of self-defense only go to a certain extent. There was no reason for him to be heavily armed and essentially prepared to take others’ lives.”
In addition to sparking heated arguments on gun control and Second Amendment rights, the verdict has been cited by many as an example of disparities in how white people and people of color are treated within the criminal justice system.
Junior Sherry Sze comments, “I think the jury’s decisions were a perfect example of how white privilege is prevalent in our society today. How can a man kill 2 people and label it as self-dense and be proven not guilty? The system has failed once again.”
The Kyle Rittenhouse trial has reignited several heated conversations that will continue long into the future.