The Guns Of Kenosha
The United States has become a country in which a 17-year old male can bring his semi-automatic weapon into a city in which he does not live that is in the midst of a Black Lives Matter protest (that was bound to turn violent) and kill two people while wounding a third and get away with all of it.
On Friday, November 19, Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty of any of the five charges against him including murder. As I understand it, the burden was on the prosecution to prove that he killed the men (this was never in doubt) and that he DID NOT do so in self-defense. The prosecution did not meet its burden. Apparently the jury was swayed by the defense’s arguments that Mr. Rittenhouse felt threatened by some of those he killed and was thus justified in the use of deadly force. I have to admit that other than the nightly updates on the evening news, I paid little attention to the trial thinking surely anyone who brings a gun to a riot and kills two people will be punished unless that person is in law enforcement. But, I guess not.
This trial was going on while the trial of three white men in Georgia is concluding. These three men are accused of having murdered a Black man, Ahmaud Arbery, who was out for a jog when these men used arms to gun him down on suspicion of theft rather than simply make a citizen’s arrest.
I believe that all four of the victims of these two incidents were really victims of the vigilante culture that seems to be taking hold in America and was reflected most graphically on January 6 on Capitol Hill.
Clearly, it is essential to maintain law and order and I am all for increasing support for the police and calling the defund the police movement what it is. Nuts. But the fact that some police kill innocents and that they are often outgunned and out manned, is not the signal to take the law into our own hands as Rittenhouse and the three men in Georgia did.
It is long overdue that the government put some limits on the use of assault rifles (a kid who wasn’t old enough to drink alcohol or vote had one?) and made it clear that the use of deadly force is only to be employed in the case of real self-defense and as the prosecutor in the Rittenhouse trial said, the defendant was the source of the danger.
The message sent by the Rittenhouse verdict is that vigilante justice is fine as long as you think you are in danger even if you put yourself there and were caught on film running with a long gun down a city street. That’s not OK.
Common sense tells you that you don’t come to a riot and bring a gun. In fact, you don’t come to a riot at all. Let the police handle that.
It now seems that the left feels free to burn and loot when a mistake like the police murder in Kenosha was made. The right seems just as hellbent on “protecting private property” by bringing guns to the riot and, it appears, feeling free to use them.
Peaceful protest is a great American tradition. I protested once or twice myself back in the 1960s. Looting, burning, rioting is not OK, but neither is regular citizens trying to do the job of the police.
The Rittenhouse verdict may prove very dangerous. It is setting the precedent for the murder of fellow Americans in the name of vigilante justice.
The OK Corral lives on in Kenosha, Wisconsin.