By Eric Levitz, Intelligencer
In August 2020, Kyle Rittenhouse brought an AR-15 to downtown Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the name of law and order. As protests and riots raged in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, the 17-year-old 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.
Or so a Wisconsin jury found on Friday. After three and half days of deliberation, the jurors found that Rittenhouse was not guilty of reckless homicide, intentional homicide, or recklessly endangering public safety. This verdict was legally defensible. Yet it also exposed the anarchy latent in America’s peculiar combination of lax gun regulations, expansive self-defense rights, and mass gun ownership.
Before examining the substance of Rittenhouse’s defense, it’s worth reviewing the case’s undisputed facts. Bystanders’ cell-phone videos establish that 36-year-old protester Joseph Rosenbaum chased Rittenhouse into a parking lot, shouted “Fuck you!,” and threw a plastic bag at his back; that a different protester fired a gun into the sky, and immediately following this shot, Rittenhouse ceased fleeing and turned around; that Rosenbaum then moved toward Rittenhouse, who proceeded to fire four times.