Kyle Rittenhouse Put on Trial for Killings in Kenosha, WI

Isaac Patterson, Contributing Writer

The trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, the now 18-year-old Illinois native known for the August 2020 killing of two Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters and the wounding of a third in Kenosha, Wisconsin, began on November 1st. According to the New York Times, Rittenhouse is being charged with felony homicide of Anthony M. Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum, attempted felony homicide of Gaige Grosskreutz, and possession of a deadly weapon while under 18, among other charges. The event occurred amid days of protest on behalf of Jacob Blake, a Black man killed by Kenosha police. The shootings were recorded by multiple people, meaning the defense isn’t trying to prove that Rittenhouse didn’t kill anyone, but are trying to prove that the shootings were in self defense, and the prosecution must prove the opposite. The trial will focus on whether Rittenhouse had reasonable cause that night, and both sides will use the video evidence to try to prove their point.

These videos, published by the New York Times, show Rittenhouse walking around with an AR-15 style rifle, along with other armed men who didn’t know him beforehand. In one video, Rittenhouse says he is there to help the injured, but he had previously posted Blue Lives Matter (BLM opposition) slogans on social media. A later video shows Rosenbaum, the first person killed, chasing Rittenhouse as Rittenhouse runs away, with Rosenbaum eventually catching up to and lunging at Rittenhouse, and Rittenhouse fatally shooting him in response. After seeing the video, CRLS student Riley O’Rourke ’23 told the Register Forum that the 17-year-old “[Rittenhouse] shouldn’t have even been allowed to have a gun.”

The trial will focus on whether Rittenhouse had reasonable cause that night, and both sides will use the video evidence to try to prove their point.”

The next video shows Rittenhouse running down a street while being chased by a group of people. Video picks up again with Rittenhouse on the ground, and Huber running up to him and hitting Rittenhouse with a skateboard, at which point Rittenhouse fatally shoots Huber. At the same time, Gaige Grosskreutz is approaching with a pistol drawn, and Rittenhouse shoots him in the arm. Rittenhouse then gets up and walks towards police vehicles with his hands up, but isn’t arrested until the next day.

As detailed by the New Yorker, Rittenhouse’s legal efforts began with an August 2020 non-profit titled #FightBack founded by John Pierce, a Trump-supporting civil attorney, who took on Rittenhouse as a client paid for by #FightBack. Pierce was eventually fired by Rittenhouse, and Rittenhouse’s defense is now led by attorney Mark Richards. Even before the trial began, presiding Kenosha Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder made an important decision. According to CNN, he refused to let prosecutors call Rosenbaum, Huber, and Grosskreutz “victims,” which is not rare in cases involving self-defense, but will let the defense call them “rioters,” “arsonists,” or “looters,” if the evidence suggests they were. The decision in this trial will be the first of many that will eventually decide his sentence, which could be up to life in prison.

After this article was written, Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all charges. 

This piece also appears in our November 2021 print edition.