Cover Image Courtesy of Sean Krajacic/AP
Dan O’Donnell on the verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse case
November 19, 2021
Perspective by Dan O’Donnell
“State of Wisconsin vs. Kyle Rittenhouse,” the jury forewoman read. “As to the first count of the information, Joseph Rosenbaum, we the jury find the defendant Kyle H. Rittenhouse not guilty.”
The young man stared at the jury box, almost motionless.
“As to the second count in the information, Richard McGinniss, we the jury find the defendant Kyle H. Rittenhouse not guilty.”
He swayed back and forth slightly.
“As to the third count in the information, unknown male, we the jury find the defendant Kyle H. Rittenhouse not guilty.”
His lip quivered as he struggled to hold back his emotions.
“As to the fourth count in the information, Anthony Huber, we the jury find the defendant Kyle H. Rittenhouse not guilty.”
His face balled up as his entire body seemed to shudder as he realized what was happening.
“As to the fifth count in the information, Gaige Grosskreutz…”
His shudders became uncontrollable sobs.
“…We the jury find the defendant Kyle H. Rittenhouse not guilty.”
He collapsed to the ground, thoroughly overcome with relief, and as he clutched his chest and tried his best to compose himself, an entire nation exhaled with him.
That relief is borne of something deeper than watching an obviously innocent young man walking free; it stems from the knowledge that the justice system itself still works.
Less than 24 hours before Rittenhouse was acquitted, an MSNBC producer was taken into custody for running a red light while following the jury bus as it dropped jurors off at home. This was a clear, odious attempt at jury intimidation from a network that had tried for months to convince viewers that Rittenhouse was a deranged white supremacist solely to pick off a Black Lives Matter protester or two. Condone that racist’s violence, jurors? Then you are complicit, and the entire world will know who you are.
“It’s cameras in [the courtroom]. It’s definitely cameras up in there.,” George Floyd’s nephew Cortez Rice said in a video that went viral during the trial. “There’s definitely people taking pictures of the jurors and everything like that. We know what’s going on.”
And, clearly, the jurors knew what was going on. One of the most significant issues during jury selection was the fear prospective jurors had that both the media and the social justice left would try to identify them and target them if they did not arrive at a verdict that delivered “justice.”
Naturally, the only acceptable outcome to this group was guilty on all counts. The implicit (bordering on explicit) threat embedded in this demand was that any other verdict would mean jurors were responsible for a grave miscarriage of justice and, if identified, would face the consequences of it.
That toxic perversion led to such serious death threats against presiding judge Bruce Schroeder and Rittenhouse defense attorney that both needed security details.
That isn’t justice, or even social justice; it’s mob justice. And it was defeated thanks to 12 brave jurors who dared to stand up to it and decide Rittenhouse’s fate on the facts of his case.
Those facts were hardly in dispute: Video evidence and testimony demonstrated that Rosenbaum, a convicted child molester who had just been released from a mental institution that morning, became extremely agitated the moment he saw Rittenhouse and chased him down before trying to grab his gun.
After Rittenhouse shot him, a mob of people shouting, “Get him!” chased him down the street. Huber caught up to him and smashed his skateboard into his head. When Rittenhouse fell, a man later identified as a career criminal from Kenosha stomped on his face. Rittenhouse fired two shots at him but missed.
Within a second, Huber was on top of Rittenhouse, struck him with his skateboard again, and tried to grab his gun. Rittenhouse shot him once, killing him. Within a second, Grosskreutz approached Rittenhouse with his hands raised, then—by his own admission—pulled out his handgun when Rittenhouse looked away and pointed it at Rittenhouse’s head. Only then did Rittenhouse fire a shot, striking him in the arm.
The jury weighed that evidence against Wisconsin’s laws governing self-defense and applied the law to those facts before rendering a unanimous verdict. That is precisely how the justice system is supposed to work, but because the outcome was not the one that either the liberal media, political class, and social justice mob wanted, they claim that justice was somehow not served.
Justice would not have been served had jurors returned a guilty verdict because they feared seeing their faces on MSNBC as a mob directed by George Floyd’s family shows up at their doorstep.
America itself is predicated on the idea that all are equal before the law and that justice is only possible if an individual is judged on the basis of his actions as weighed against the law that governs them.
Justice isn’t possible if anything interferes with this, and the only interference in the administration of justice in the Rittenhouse case has come from those who believe justice only occurs when they see their preferred result. When they actively take steps to intimidate those involved in the administration of justice, they are the greatest single threat to justice that this country faces.
They tried their best to interfere in the Rittenhouse case, but the jurors tasked with actually administering justice refused to let them. Rittenhouse didn’t win so much as justice itself did.
And we should all be relieved that it did.