Rittenhouse Verdict In Kenosha

This columnist has deliberately waited a while after the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict to comment on anything related, because that trial and verdict has been so polarizing, and people just know the headlines and what they are told on social media.

 As we have heard by now, Rittenhouse was found not guilty of murdering two people in the riots in Kenosha, WI last year because the jury found he was acting in self-defense.  

The same day that the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict came down, a trial in Florida ended with a “not guilty” of a man who killed a police officer. There was no debate about the facts of the case—the defendant killed a police officer and fired shots at other police officers. But Andrew Coffee, who is Black, was found not guilty by reason of self-defense of one count of murder, and three counts of attempted murder.  Coffee killed the officer and fired at several others after they entered his house with no warning. Coffee claimed that he thought the house was being broken into and he was simply firing at people with guns who battered down the door.  The jury agreed.

 The Rittenhouse case and the Coffee case have little in common, other than the verdicts were delivered on the same day. Two separate juries judged their cases independently and arrived at their verdicts. In the two cases, individuals of different races, were both found to be acting in self-defense.

Related to those two cases, primarily because of the racial overtones, was the case of Ahmaud Arbery, which was decided last week. Arbery, who is Black, was out jogging when he was chased and killed by three men, all of whom were white, and who claimed they thought he had been involved in a theft. However, there was no evidence of any robbery nor did a video taken by one of the men show that Arbery was armed or offered an immediate threat when he was shot and killed. All men were found guilty of murder and all will spend the rest of their lives in prison.

In each case above, the juries were made up mostly of non-minorities. So, how did a Black man who admitted that he killed a cop and shot at several others get a verdict of “not guilty”? And how did three white men who said they suspected a Black man of committing a crime and then running away, get found guilty of murder and put in prison for life?

In the environment that we are in, leftists have told us that everything must be viewed through a racial lens, that everything that happens has underlying racial overtones, Indeed, that is a fundamental, underlying premise of Critical Race Theory.

But we should reject such stereotypes and gross characterizations of huge parts of society. Could it be possible that each jury decided these individual cases on their merits? Could it be that people who heard every bit of the days and days of testimony and reviewed the video and other evidence presented, came to an independent conclusion? Could it be that each of the juries wanted to see justice done, and judged according to the evidence no matter how they may have personally felt?

There are things we need to improve on in the justice system in regard to race. However, could it be that juries do the best they can to judge fairly (even if those of us who did not hear the testimony, or the evidence presented may disagree)? Simply because things happen between two people of opposite races does not mean that either the incident or the verdict is due to racism (or, in the Rittenhouse case, the shooting victims were white but the riots were over an earlier racial incident involving police).

Maybe we should put a little more confidence in our fellow citizens and our justice system. At a minimum, the sum of the cases above show that it is not inherently flawed. And maybe, just maybe, if we stop believing that everyone who may disagree with us or comes to a different conclusion is evil, then we may find that there is a lot more we all have in common than the radicals and some in the media (who are just looking for headlines to drive sales), would have us think.

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