Workers World is outraged — along with the rest of the country and the world — with the devastating November 20 acquittal of 18-year-old, white vigilante Kyle Rittenhouse for the murders of two anti-racists, Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and the wounding of a third anti-racist, Gaige Grosskreutz. These killings occurred during an Aug. 25, 2020, protest against the police shooting two days before of a 27-year-old Black man, Jacob Blake, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Blake was shot seven times in the back and remains paralyzed from the waist down. None of the police officers involved were charged in the shooting.
The all-white jury deliberated for over three days on whether Rittenhouse exercised the right to self-defense. He traveled from Illinois, openingly carrying an AR-15 rifle in order to terrorize the multinational anti-police brutality protest. The Kenosha police were caught on video before the shootings thanking Rittenhouse and other vigilantes for their presence and giving them water. The police allowed Rittenhouse to continue to brandish his weapon minutes after the shootings before the teenager voluntarily turned himself in to the authorities.
The sham trial was tainted from the very beginning. During a pre-trial hearing, Judge Bruce Schroeder stated that the three men Rittenhouse shot could not be characterized as “victims” or “alleged victims” — but it was okay to demonize them as “arsonists,” “looters” and “rioters.” These instructions reflect the biased view that Rittenhouse feared for his life when he committed homicide and intentional homicide.
The truth is that Rosenbaum and Huber gave their lives in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protest. In fact, Huber’s mother, Karen Bloom, called her son a hero, and millions more agree with this sentiment.
This trial and its outcome was not about one individual vigilante; it is an indictment of the entire rotten (in)justice system. It is a blatant attack on the heroic Black Lives Matter struggle versus white supremacy, in the forms of domestic terrorism, the police, the courts and the judges. This acquittal is an effort to instill fear and intimidation throughout a movement that has brought millions into the streets to demand an end to systemic racism, especially in the aftermath of the publicized lynching of George Floyd.
The acquittal of Rittenhouse is a stark reminder of the racist and fascistic war on Black and other oppressed peoples and their allies.
President Joe Biden apologized for the verdict, insisting that “the jury system works, and the verdict had to be abided by.” (cnn.com, Nov. 19) Colin Kaepernick said it all Nov. 19 on Twitter: “We just witnessed a system built on white supremacy validate the terroristic acts of a white supremacist. This only further validates the need to abolish our current system. White supremacy cannot be reformed.”
The only answer to the atrocities that took place against Jacob Blake, Anthony Huber, Joseph Rosenbaum and Gaige Grosskreutz, and countless other victims and survivors, is to stay and grow in the streets. Our demands must be to not only abolish the police, the courts and white supremacy but to abolish their breeding ground — the entire rotten capitalist system.