Kyle Rittenhouse is not a Hero

JILLIAN SYLVESTER

Kyle Rittenhouse, on August 25th, 2020, crossed the state line between his home state of Illinois into Wisconsin, armed with an AR-15 semi automatic rifle he had his friend buy him with his unemployment check. His plan, among other armed men, was to protect a car dealership in Kenosha from a protest against the police shooting of Jacob Blake

This piece is not about declaring the verdict of the Rittenhouse case wrong or right or calling his testimony a fib. It is about analyzing and criticizing attitudes surrounding the case. Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old with a military style semi-automatic rifle, is not a hero. 

Let’s get further into that point: why did a 17-year-old have access to that highly dangerous rifle? In Rittenhouse’s home state, Illinois, their gun laws clearly state, “It is unlawful to sell or give any handgun to a person under 18, or any firearm to a person who is not eligible to obtain a FOID (Firearms Owners Identification Card).” However, the friend who bought the gun for Rittenhouse at the time, 18-year-old Dominick Black, purchased the gun with his father in Wisconsin. Dominick Black has been charged for his actions. In section 948.60 of the Wisconsin legislature, it states “Except as provided in par. (c), any person who intentionally sells, loans or gives a dangerous weapon to a person under 18 years of age is guilty of a Class I felony,” and, furthermore, it also states “Whoever violates par. (b) is guilty of a Class H felony if the person under 18 years of age under par. (b) discharges the firearm and the discharge causes death to himself, herself or another.” Here is the full list of parts to better understand:

(a)Any person under 18 years of age who possesses or goes armed with a dangerous weapon is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

(b) Except as provided in par. (c), any person who intentionally sells, loans or gives a dangerous weapon to a person under 18 years of age is guilty of a Class I felony.

(c) Whoever violates par. (b) is guilty of a Class H felony if the person under 18 years of age under par. (b) discharges the firearm and the discharge causes death to himself, herself or another.

Illegally obtaining a firearm and discharging it, causing death and injury, is not being a hero. There is no dispute that laws were broken here. Rittenhouse’s mother claims that they were going to try to obtain a FOID to legally keep the firearm in their home, but Rittenhouse used the firearm as a minor prior to obtaining the FOID. Black himself told the police that he did not want to give the firearm to Rittenhouse because he was 17, but he knew Rittenhouse “would have thrown a fit” if he did not. 

What type of hero “throws a fit?” 

The same people that call Rittenhouse a hero, like congressmen Madison Cawthorne, call people looking for equity and equality “snowflakes.” Cawthorne, who offered Rittenhouse a congressional internship, called Disney’s equity training “racist.” I personally will not follow in the steps of someone who is offended by training employees to respect each other in applauding Rittenhouse. 

The men Rittenhouse killed and injured, no matter how much of a threat Rittenhouse felt they posed, were American men. They were not traitors or enemies of the country. If Rittenhouse felt threatened then so be it, but the celebration of the murder and injury of those two men is disgusting. If you choose to celebrate the killing of two fellow Americans because you believe it follows your political agenda and makes you a “patriot,” reevaluate. To do so, start by humanizing the men that were shot. View them as people, not monsters of a protest. 

Joseph Rosenbaum was the first to be shot and killed by Rittenhouse. He and his fiance were struggling with money and were at times homeless. He had just been released from the hospital for an attempted suicide. Rosenbaum had a very troubled past of  being sexually abused, constantly  having to move as his mother was evading the law, and a family that had many encounters with the law. At the protest, he was unarmed, only carrying a hospital bag with toiletries and papers. Rosenbaum was seen at the protests saying racial slurs and asking to be shot. First, we must remember that two out of the three men who were shot by Rittenhouse are not alive to testify for themselves. Their half of the story will never be told. Rosenbaum had a criminal background, but that does not justify celebrating his death. 

 Rittenhouse had absolutely no way of knowing Rosenbaum’s background and had no right to decide his execution date. Rittenhouse, although trying to emulate the police, had no justification to play the role of a law enforcer or interpreter. Like any other American under the Constitution, Rosenbaum deserved the right to a trial for his actions at the protest, not death by the hands of a 17-year-old with a gun. It is beyond hypocritical and selective to celebrate the killing of Rosenbaum and to also express a love for the Constitution. You cannot cherry pick out of the Constitution when it fits your agenda. The Constitution will only work when all of it is addressed. As citizens who the Constitution is supposed to protect and supply their rights, we should have the greatest urgency to ensure all of it is being addressed properly. 

Anthony Huber was the second man to be killed by Rittenhouse. Huber was a friend of Jacob Blake, the man shot by police and the reason for the protests. Huber had a criminal background, but again, Rittenhouse had no way of knowing that and Huber had already done his time for those crimes. These are the accounts of Huber at the protest from his girlfriend who was with him the entire night: He had gone to the protests to film and saw Rittenhouse running away from a now dead Rosenbaum with his AR-15. Huber, seeing Rittenhouse as an active shooter, went to hit Rittenhouse with his skateboard in an attempt to stop him, acting in self-defense and to protect others. Rittenhouse shot and killed him. The words of Hannah Gittings, Anthony Huber’s girlfriend, sums up the situation perfectly. She stated “If these people [Rittenhouse’s group] had just done what they said they were going to be doing, standing outside of the property making sure nobody was ruining these buildings and businesses, whatever, that’s cool, but you weren’t.” Rittenhouse was “looking for a reason to say, ‘Oh, I gotta do something about this.’” Gittings is absolutely correct in saying this. Rittenhouse and the rest of his group went to that parade looking for trouble. The owners of the used car shop deny that they asked the group to protect their property. Rittenhouse was looking for trouble amidst a protest and he got it. Rittenhouse’s admiration of the police led him to look for a situation that would allow him to act as one – without the training. Americans should not be celebrating people playing pretend and putting others, including policemen, in harm’s way. Protecting that business was not his job. 

Gaige Grosskreutz was the third man to be shot by Rittenhouse. Grosskreutz was part of the group that ran after Rittenhouse believing he was an active shooter.  Grosskreutz became a paramedic after high school and despite having changed careers, he had attended many protests over the summer to give medical aid to those who needed it. That night, Grosskreutz had a pistol and his medical supplies. In his chase of the active-shooter (Rittenhouse), he approached him with his hands up saying that killing Rittenhouse was “not why I was out there.” He admitted during cross-examination of video footage that his pistol was pointed at Rittenhouse when he got closer to him but it was not intentional. Once the pistol was pointed at him, Rittenhouse fired. Rittenhouse started the bloodshed with Rosenbaum, causing disarray among the protestors, and prompting men like Huber and Grosskreutz to act in self-defense and to protect others. Rittenhouse was acting in self-defense against Rosenbaum and it caused people to fear him and feel the need to protect themselves from him. Two out of the three men he shot were unarmed. Again, Rittenhouse had no reason to be at these protests. He was not a cop, he was not asked to protect that business, and he was illegally in possession of the gun. Grosskreutz filed a lawsuit that Kenosha officials and law enforcement knew of Rittenhouse’s armed vigilante group and supported them during the protests.  

Rittenhouse started the bloodshed. 

As Gittings said, Rittenhouse was there looking for trouble in a place he did not belong. He was a minor with an admiration for the police who decided he wanted to play pretend with an AR-15 at a protest half an hour away from his community. It is the job of the justice system to decide the fate of people charged with crimes, not Rittenhouse who had no way to know of their criminal pasts. There is no justification for their deaths in their criminal pasts. Declaring justification in this way is a blatant show of America’s political extremism to the point that death becomes something to celebrate when it is made to fit into politics. Where is the American dignity of treating death as loss? We lost two men that night. Two men that went through due-process for their wrong-doings. Sure, they were not American service men, but they were Americans. Pride in your country is mourning the loss of Americans and not twisting it into a political ploy. 

Anthony Sabatini, you disgust me. 

Ann Coulter, you disgust me. 

Michelle Malkin, you disgust me. 

To the others applauding Kyle Rittenhouse that I have not mentioned, you disgust me. I am disgusted by the reactions of this country and you should be too.

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