Kyle Rittenhouse’s name has become a global header since his jury deliberations began on Nov. 16, encompassing five felony charges — one of which was a murder charge. What was confirmed ahead of his trial was that he arrived at an anti-police brutality protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Aug. 25, 2020 with a Smith and Wesson AR-style semi-automatic rifle strapped to his chest. The Badger State neighborhood unrest was in response to an officer shooting Jacob Blake two days prior.
Racial frameworks were an immediate media topic, both challenging excessive force impressions and those in question of breaking the law. Blake, a Black man, became partially paralyzed following a white cop firing at him with his children present. Opposing arguments illustrated Blake was said to be carrying a pocket knife, which was believed to motivate the policemen. In contrast, others felt Blake was reduced to a hashtag among Black men facing white violence and police brutality. Enter Elijah Jovan McClain, George Perry Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Manuel “Mannie” Elijah Ellis, Michael Brent Charles Ramos, and innumerable others. And let’s not forget Black women such as Breonna Taylor and many more who’ve been victims of these brutalities, as well.
Whatever perspective news onlookers support, all can verify Rittenhouse, a white teen and former member of a police cadet program, was not greeted by local law enforcement with the same vigor. Additionally, he crossed the state line from Antioch, Illinois and claimed to receive the weaponry he was not legally of age to carry from a friend — bringing forth loopholes. As New York Magazine’s Intelligencer has confirmed, Rittenhouse, a “… Blue Lives Matter enthusiast, felt called to serve as an amateur armed guard for a Kenosha car dealership. He ended up shooting two unarmed protesters dead and blowing off another’s right bicep — without committing a crime.”
Emerging questions on what his behavior’s legal outcome would be if Rittenhouse were not privileged stretched across social media exchanges, including the hashtag #TwoAmericas. Further compounding diverse viewpoints and potential verdict confusion was the fact, “… Rittenhouse’s attorneys asked the judge to declare a mistrial even as the jury in the murder case was deliberating…” per AP. If the defendant’s team lacked confidence in their ability to prove his innocence or reach an acquittal earlier, are there any foreseeable consequences for Rittenhouse now?
Claim: Can Kyle Rittenhouse face other legal consequences despite being acquitted?
Rating: Yes. While he cannot be tried again, the victims’ families can sue him in civil court. Additionally, Rittenhouse’s case could bring forth new federal charges through the Department of Justice or further.
During his criminal trial, Rittenhouse was said to be acting in self-defense by his attorney. However, prosecutors contested that he invited the conflict he claimed to fear when he arrived at a protest with an assault rifle. Moreover, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published, “Under Wisconsin statutes that say anyone under 18 who ‘goes armed’ with any deadly weapon is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor… Also, Illinois law requires anyone who owns any kind of firearm in that state to have a Firearm Owners Identification card, but that is only available to someone 21 or older…” All facts considered, the prosecution cannot appeal Rittenhouse’s verdict.
Those who are tasked with upholding law and order surrounding these events are also experiencing heightened scrutiny. As REVOLT has previously reported, the judge who presided over Rittenhouse’s trial, Bruce Schroeder, expressed what some felt was a racial implication. Upon explaining why he permitted Rittenhouse “… choose the names of the jurors who would be excluded from the final panel… the judge stated that the last time he let a clerk choose the juror names was almost two decades ago in a trial with a Black defendant. He said there was ‘a bad optic’ after the clerk chose ‘a Black, the Black, the only Black’ in the jury pool.”
Moreover, ahead of Rittenhouse’s deliberations, Judge Schroeder dismissed an illegal gun possession charge against him. “All of you — I couldn’t have asked for a better jury to work with, and it has truly been my pleasure. I think without commenting on your verdict… in terms of your attentiveness and the cooperation that you gave to us justifies the confidence that the founders of our country placed in you,” CNN transcribed Schroeder stating in court. In short, Rittenhouse faced charges of intentional, reckless and attempted homicide, as well as reckless endangerment — and is now a free man.
Again, the state cannot try him twice, as revisiting his trial would signify double jeopardy. Even so, last year’s killings at the Wisconsin protest sparked nationwide demonstrations in response. “The Rittenhouse verdict is a clear signal to white supremacist vigilantes: your violence justified. We must not become inured to white supremacy,” wrote Robert Reich, Berkeley professor and former secretary of labor on Twitter. However, the prosecution might not be entirely out of options if they elect to push further.
“The families of Rosenbaum and Huber could still sue Rittenhouse, and Grosskreutz could also file a suit over his injuries. There is precedent for this in other high-profile cases. For instance, O.J. Simpson was acquitted for the 1994 murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, but he later lost a civil lawsuit filed by the families and was ordered to pay millions,” wrote Newsweek.
Echoing above, Congressman Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, also tested last week’s verdict, tweeting:
“This heartbreaking verdict is a miscarriage of justice and sets a dangerous precedent which justifies federal review by DOJ. Justice cannot tolerate armed persons crossing state lines looking for trouble while people engage in First Amendment-protected protest.”
Building upon combined investigation insights, viral images accusing Rittenhouse of flashing white power signs at a bar have traveled worldwide. Subsequently, The Chicago Tribune ran an article with the headline, “Rittenhouse judge bars evidence connecting teen to Proud Boys during trial.” Some observers feel the teenager was safeguarded. Still, the primary contention did not disappear.
The Boston Globe detailed, “The American inclination is to protect the power structure, to uphold the institutional ideal of whiteness, at all times. You can be a vigilante when your mission is to serve the system. Rittenhouse knew this. It’s why he so smugly posed with Proud Boys, allegedly drinking underage in a bar, flashing white power signs, and rocking a ‘Free as F—’ T-shirt earlier this year shortly after pleading not guilty.” Likening records, The Atlantic reacted to the new ruling highlighting, “A group of conservatives, largely of the MAGA variety, have chosen to make Rittenhouse into a hero.” In an era this culturally delicate, there is no one-size-fits-all take toward accountability.
Some conservatives have also questioned how harmful the Proud Boys are to the nation. For example, at the top of the year, footage of Senator Lindsey Graham asking the FBI director, Christopher Wray, if the Proud Boys are a domestic terrorist group became widespread. Wray responded, “Well, I do not think we have treated the Proud Boys itself a domestic terrorism group.” Although, the Proud Boys were named a ‘Terrorist Entity’ in Canada.
By FBI definition, domestic terrorism is as follows under their Confronting White Supremacy Statement for the Record website’s section:
“The FBI categorizes terrorism investigations into two main programs: international terrorism and domestic terrorism. International terrorism includes cases in which subjects are members of designated FTOs [foreign terrorist organizations], state sponsors of terrorism, and HVEs [homegrown violent extremists]. The latter are individuals inside the United States who are inspired by international terrorism who have been radicalized to violence primarily in the United States… Domestic terrorists are individuals who commit violent criminal acts in furtherance of ideological goals stemming from domestic influences, such as racial bias and anti-government sentiment.”
What Americans can confirm is that residents are grieving. Deja Vishny, a criminal defense lawyer who worked for the Wisconsin State Public Defender for nearly 40 years, spoke to Rolling Stone, explaining, “In general, the Black community in Kenosha is treated poorly in the court system. Just like a lot of places, there’s over-incarceration of Black people — there’s harsh sentences for Black defendants — there’s a lot of bias against Black people… There could be civil actions to sue Rittenhouse for what he’s done, but it’s important that those actions aren’t just against Rittenhouse himself but against the police for [allegedly] colluding with Rittenhouse and the vigilantes, for allowing the situation to develop to the point where this could potentially happen…”
In the aftermath, the national struggle over gun rights continues with numerous GOP politicians deeming Rittenhouse’s actions justifiable. There are reprinted inquiries collecting outlooks on whether or not the United State’s justice system is working as designed? Despite opposing beliefs, the populace knows a privileged individual’s proximity to minoritized environments cannot be conflated with enduring them. Black and POC administrative leadership arguably offer a distinct perspective of lived experiences between state-by-state regulations and individual court litigation opinions. Many civilians would like to know if federal charges are possible. Put plainly, yes, there can.
Rittenhouse opened fire with weaponry he did not own. Despite the dismissal of two misdemeanor charges, laws were broken at the anti-police brutality protest. Brightening a blindspot for those supporting Rittenhouse, beside decades of practice, Vishny summarized:
“For example, you had what we call a straw buyer buy the firearm. He wanted a gun. He was too young to buy, so somebody else did it. That’s a federal crime. There could be other federal charges and the Department of Justice, I’m sure, will take a look at that.”