OPINION: the Injustice of Kyle Rittenhouse’s Acquittal

Op-ed

The image above depicts Kyle Rittenhouse, who walked away with an AR-15 in the name of “self-defense.

Since the shooting at Kenosha, Wisconsin, Kyle Rittenhouse’s name has been splashed all over headlines. On Aug. 25, 2020, teenager Kyle Rittenhouse shot three White protestors at a Black Lives Matter event. Two of the individuals died and one was left injured. Rittenhouse claims that he went there with the intent of protecting businesses from property damage with his AR-15-style rifle. Rittenhouse’s trial read off their verdicts on Friday, Nov. 19. He was found not guilty of all charges—a verdict that quickly sparked outrage from some.

A Controversial Trial

Not only were Rittenhouse’s actions problematic, but the actual trial had a few issues. The jurors were selected out of 150 people, the majority of them were White, and were all chosen in one day. The final panel consisted of 20 people – 11 men and 9 women but only one person was a person of color.

Judge Schroeder ruled that prosecutors could not call the people shot and killed by Rittenhouse as victims, even though that’s what they were. The word “ victim” doesn’t mean “innocent,” and that’s something Judge Schroeder needs to understand. He still allowed defense lawyers to call them “arsonists” and “looters” if they could prove those people had taken part in those activities.

The Rittenhouse trial judge’s performance was problematic. On one day, Schroeder’s cell phone rang with “God Bless The U.S.A. '' by Lee Greenwood. On another, Schroeder drew criticism for a joke about a lunch delay involving Asian food.

Double Standards

Injustice can occur when a person’s race determines the fate of their sentencing, and this is the case of Kyle Rittenhouse. When a white male is charged with alleged crimes, people sympathize with him. They raise money on GoFundMe pages and bring awareness to his cause. After all, he is just an innocent young man, who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, right? Meanwhile, when a person of color is charged with an alleged crime, they are met with violence.

Rather than reflecting on this devastation, some conservative people raised money for Rittenhouse’s $2 million bail.

In the year of 2020, names like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Jacob Blake circulated the media due to charges that resulted in police murder. Unlike Kyle Rittenhouse, these individuals were treated without sympathy.

As an Ahmadi Muslim teen, I look up to my faith for answers when it comes to such injustices. The worldwide spiritual head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad says that “For the sake of the peace and harmony of any nation, it is a prerequisite that the government, local authorities and law enforcement agencies treat all of their citizens equally, irrespective of their skin colour or ethnicity. In this regard, the expectation of absolute justice and non-discrimination from the leader of a country as the United States is especially high.”

An Inappropriate Response

While relatives of the Kenosha killer’s victims wept over his acquittal, at least three Republican U.S. lawmakers offered Kyle Rittenhouse congressional internships. Kyle Rittenhouse had quickly become a pin-up for some individuals.

Congressman Matt Gaetz says he is open to giving Kyle Rittenhouse an internship— while Rep. Madison Cawthorn celebrated the teen’s acquittal with an offer to him.

“Kyle, if you want an internship, reach out to me,” Cawthorne (R-NC) posted on his Instagram account after he was found not guilty.

Kyle Rittenhouse‘s defense attorney criticized Republicans offering his client internships, calling it “disgusting.” These people are sending a harmful message to Americans that white supremacy is not only acceptable, but it’s a resume booster. It is baffling how a teenager who shot three people became the hero.

Rittenhouse’s ability to shoot three people and not be found ‘guilty’ is exactly the injustice that people were protesting that night in Kenosha

Maha Laiq
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Maha is a current high school senior from Virginia. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, catching up on binge-worthy TV shows, and spending time with her friends and family.