The Rittenhouse Verdict and the Future of Vigilante Violence
The Rittenhouse Verdict and the Future of Vigilante Violence
There are typically two levels in a case like Rittenhouse’s, the individual issues of justice and accountability, and the social implications of the crime and its judicial resolution. I want to spend a moment with the second.
America faces an impending crisis of vigilante suppression of democratic rights. In the past year we’ve seen militias openly threatening violence in takeovers of state capitals, the Capitol Building in Washington and the streets that have seen protests against police brutality and similar issues. Militias have brought guns to their own protests against vaccination, mask orders, and other public health actions by state and local government.
Maybe this is the highwater mark of the militia movement, but maybe not. There will certainly be flashpoints in the coming years where political tensions will be intense. A videoed police murder might set off a new wave of BLM-ish actions. There may (and should) be mass events demanding action on climate change. Above all, there is a significant chance that political interference may cause the 2024 election to be visibly (and actually) stolen, which would trigger a tsunami of large-scale demonstrations and direct action activities. An important question is whether armed right wing thugs will be permitted to suppress them.
We are in a difficult situation. In much or most of the country, police are either passively or actively supportive of vigilantes. This was transparent in Kenosha, where, even after he had shot an unarmed, mentally disturbed man and tried to surrender to the police, Rittenhouse was allowed to go his way. There are similar indications in my home state of Oregon. We can’t rely on the police to curb the militias.
Even when armed paramilitaries kill protesters, we have learned from the Rittenhouse case they stand a good chance of being acquitted. Granted, the criminal law is not an ideal line of defense against a political strategy like vigilante intimidation, since it is constructed around the question of individual culpability. Indeed, Rittenhouse might well have been innocent in purely legal terms, even though his actions were part of a pattern of vigilante social control.
This leaves the legislative route as the only alternative. Here we are hemmed in by the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the second amendment. Broadly written gun control laws will be declared unconstitutional. Ironically, the language of the amendment itself justifies an armed citizenry on the grounds of a supposed need for a “well-regulated militia”. What that qualifier means is obscure, but private militias are exactly the threat from which we need deliverance.
It might not survive Supreme Court scrutiny, but I would again urge, as a matter of priority, legislation at every level that prohibits bringing firearms to any political venue—a public building, a political rally, a demonstration or any event or gathering where political demands or deliberations take place. We desperately need to disarm our politics before it’s too late. If the Rittenhouse verdict tells us nothing else, it’s that we are approaching the point of no return.
Surely it is politically incorrect of me to take such an opposite view, but here in central Virginia when Unite the Right showed up armed to demonstrate their first and second amendment rights they were allowed to peacefully leave with a police escort for their own safety. Richmond VA is not Charlottesville VA. When Unite the Right came to Richmond they were not just confronting a bunch of over-educated cracker kids, but a well armed citizenry of blue collar black men. All that real tree camo might help them hide from Bambi, but in urban warfare those uniforms just make then stand out like a sore thumb.
IOW, be careful what you wish for or don’t take an assault rifle to a turkey shoot.
As one journalist revealed even before the trial began, the elected Judge Bruce Schroeder revealed his prejudice favoring the accused. As explained, even when you are a voter who knows the issues. Judges do not typically reveal their inner selves during trials. The cases they participate in also have little publicity. The Kyle Rittenhouse Judge Gave Voters a Gift
In this case, Judge Bruce during a “pretrial hearing ruled he would not allow the attorneys to refer to the dead (Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber) or injured (Gaige Grosskreuz) as ‘victims.’ Partly because the jury might later decide they were assailants whom Rittenhouse was justified in shooting.
What caused a stir was Schroeder also said he might let the attorneys call them ‘rioters’ or ‘looters’ if evidence of either behavior was presented. His explanation for allowing those and not the other was the use of the identity of ‘victim’ is a loaded, loaded word.’ A term that could unfairly influence the jury’s feelings about the men who were shot, and thus the jury’s feelings about whether it was okay for Rittenhouse to shoot them.”
As strange as it may seem, we have a white underaged child coming from out-of-state armed with an assault style weapon (which has been banned in some parts of Illinois (Highland Park, etc.) which follows Scalia’s interpretation of the 2nd Amendment and also supported by the 7th District COA) who claims he is there to render first aid.
He shoots three White men. I would wonder if he was expecting Black men as the rioters? And whether this was his purpose to go to Kenosha?
“…He shoots three White men…”
[Kenosha is about 80% white so there just were more more whites to shoot at.]
Thank you Ron:
I lived in Wisconsin and worked in Racine for a while.
“And whether this was his purpose to go to Kenosha?”
“If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there.”
The use of the term vigilante is not very accurate in this case. Vigilantism involves attempts to enforce law without civil authority. Rittenhouse never attempted that. Standing armed guard over private property is not vigilantism, even if the threat to that arises from clear violations of the law. Firing a weapon in self-defense is not vigilantism, either. He fired on no one in an attempt to enforce law. He made no efforts to arrest anyone. There was property in Kenosha that was threatened (for a third night) with low to no expectation that civil authority would keep it secure. The notion that property should not be secured against rioters because the rioters might get injured is incredibly bizarre. Heck yes, they might get injured and injured badly if they do not desist. It is reasonable to think that had Rittenhouse and others not decided to arm themselves and show force to protect property in Kenosha, then the shootings would not have occurred. It is equally reasonable to believe that had people in Kenosha had confidence that civil authorities were actually going to protect them and their property the shootings also would not have happened. Allowing the rioting to resume a second night was negligent and to let it get going a third night was a message from the Governor to people in Kenosha that protection was going to be their responsibility. When the shooting forced his hand with respect to deploying the National Guard, the violence ended abruptly. The people of Kenosha were expendable to his insane desire to placate violent rioters, lest he be thought of as somehow anti-BLM in the minds of a fraction of his constituents.
I guess he had prior training beyond just being a Patrol Boy in Grade School? Was he X-Military having received training for guard duty or chasing prisoners or when to shoot and not to shoot. Did the Kenosha police solicit him to come to Kenosha? Did the police assign him a spot to guard? Did he stop and apply first aid to anyone he shot? Did he telephone for an ambulance besides the friend he called to boast about the man he first shot? White Rittenhouse was allowed to leave the scene.
Rittenhouse had no legitimate reason to be there. He never gave anyone first aid as he claimed he would. Not even to the people he murdered.
“you can’t just nominate yourself as a security provider.”
Any thoughts to allow an “ignore” button for posters to avoid such content?
does any one really want to have competing vigilantes with competing ideas of what is right and wrong? cause that is where we are going. the police seem to favor one of the sides over the others. does that make them vigilantes too?
We do not have well regulated militias. If we did, anyone owning or controlling or having access to a weapon of war should be presumed to have volunteered for the National Guard. Regular attendance at National Guard meetings to demonstrate knowledge, skills and abilities in the use of a weapon of war along with physical fitness and mental fitness standards would determine continuing ownership, control or having access to the weapon of war. Transport of the weapon of war beyond a a residence would be subject to the rules and regulations of the National Guard.
Related to Tom?
he’ll probably be running for Congress himself soon enough…
Marjorie Taylor Greene introduces bill to award Congressional Gold Medal to Rittenhouse | TheHill
maybe he is being groomed for higher office: