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Did the 17-year-old gunman act in self defense in Kenosha?

Did the 17-year-old gunman act in self defense in Kenosha?
WRITTEN BY
08/28/20
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Elizabeth (Yes)

No 17-year-old teenager should have been 'patrolling' the streets of Kenosha, WI, in the first place. However, there is ample video evidence that Kyle Rittenhouse was working alongside others in the self-imposed task of protecting businesses from damage and looting. Something in Kyle's involvement on Tuesday night led to him being chased and subsequently shooting three people, two of them fatally. There is obviously mounds more information needed in this situation, but initial video footage indicates he shot in self-defense.

As of now, it seems unclear what prompted a handful of protestors first to begin chasing Rittenhouse. The first victim can be seen lunging at Kyle after Kyle turns toward an (unrelated?) gunshot nearby. Kyle then shot this man, killing him. He immediately makes a call (unknown if this is to 911) but flees when others start to pursue him.

Rittenhouse is subsequently shown to be chased by a larger number of people. The second victim is seen swinging his skateboard at Kyle's head. Rittenhouse also killed this man who could easily see Rittenhouse was armed (he was openly carrying a long gun of some sort) but attacked regardless. The third victim, who was only wounded, came at Rittenhouse with a drawn handgun. You can even see Kyle pause as the third victim hesitates briefly in his advance on Rittenhouse.

Again, Kyle Rittenhouse should never have been in Kenosha or involved in this militia. That said, this young man, who is legally a minor, seems to have exhibited self-control under extreme circumstances of mob chase and beating by only firing his weapon in self-defense and only when attacked by three adults.

Jennifer (No)

Kyle Rittenhouse was not defending himself. Arriving at a volatile demonstration with a loaded weapon is a declaration of war. As a 17-year-old, it was illegal in his state to be carrying such a weapon in public. This right is reserved, in Wisconsin, for those over the age of 18. Now charged with murder, Rittenhouse killed two people and injured another. The third victim is still hospitalized and recovering. Those claiming he was defending himself would do well to carefully watch this video.

Rittenhouse is an admirer of law enforcement whose now-deleted Facebook page is riddled with content to that effect. But the teen's apparent obsession with policing goes deeper than that. Rittenhouse was also a member of the Lindenhurst, Grayslake, Hainesville Police Department's Public Safety Cadet Program. He also considered himself a militia member and went to Kenosha for the express purpose of supporting police. He has testified to police that he was in Kenosha to answer a local militia group's call.

Rittenhouse also attended a Trump rally in Des Moines, Iowa, where online media shows him sitting in the front row. The Trump campaign has denied any connection to the shooter. Rittenhouse is obsessed with law enforcement, and the idea of being an armed vigilante springs from that obsession. While it's not unusual for young men to fantasize about the power of firearms, it is certainly uncommon for television pundits to defend the summary killings of two American citizens. First-degree intentional homicide, in which Rittenhouse is now charged, is not self-defense.



Fact Box

  • The Antioch police department announced teenager, Kyle Rittenhouse, was accused of opening fire on a group during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last night, killing two. Footage shows Rittenhouse says he was there to protect businesses and “help people.” 
  • On Wednesday, he was arrested and charged with first-degree intentional homicide. He turned himself in at the Antioch police headquarters, and remains in custody of the Lake County Judicial System.
  • According to Wisconsin law, “if a person is not otherwise prohibited from possessing a firearm, it is legal to carry any legal firearm openly, “but the teen was not old enough to legally carry the assault-style rifle in his possession.
  • Protests in Wisconsin were spurred on by the shooting and hospitalization of Jacob Blake, 29, who was involved in an altercation with police on Sunday
  • White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows reports Democratic Governor Tony Evers turned down 500 additional National Guard offered by the Trump administration for Wisconsin’s use prior to the shootings.
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