By B. Zarzur
How far would you go for self-defence? This is the question that remains at the heart of the trial that sharply split America into two, igniting debate over gun rights. 18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse murdered 2 people and injured a 3rd, amidst a chaotic ‘Black Lives Matter’ protest in August 2020. Fast forward 14 months: Rittenhouse has been found not guilty of any charges made against him, including homicide. The trial took place on November 19th, 2021, in Kenosha, a small city in Wisconsin.
Following a summer of unrest, protests in the US became frequent in 2020, some even violent. At the time, Rittenhouse was 17 years old, and travelled to Kenosha to protect businesses from looters, and took with him, an AR- 15- style rifle. As Rittenhouse found himself lost amidst chaos, he was chased by an unarmed but disturbed individual, 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum. Rittenhouse fired 4 times until he was dead. Following this, as he ran away, 2 other men approached him, and Rittenhouse shot again, this time killing one, Anthony Huber, and injuring the other, Gauge Grosskreutz.
After two weeks of testimony and evidence, the defence attorneys managed to convince a jury of 12 that Kyle Rittenhouse has acted in self-defence and is not guilty of any charges made against him. The trial fuelled angry politicians and quickly divided America. Liberals see it as a failure of the criminal justice system. Conservatives see it as a win for the right to self-defence. Many critics were made, and as political opinion weighed in, the case quickly became a national symbol. A liberal congresswoman calls Rittenhouse a ‘domestic terrorist’, while others see him as ‘a well – meaning man who was just trying to help his community’. American president, Joe Biden calls Rittenhouse a ‘white supremacist’, while former president Donald Trump defended him.
Despite the decisions made by the jury, It is urgent that congress legislate and pass laws defining the right to self-defence and many other rights that have been stricken down. The situation with Rittenhouse is a symbolic call for action for congressmen and women to legislate. Alas, the judiciary is not a democratically elected body, congress, the house of the people should step-up and legislate on matters that America needs the most.