Students Weigh in on Rittenhouse Verdict

Summit’s thoughts on the controversial Kyle Rittenhouse trial


Dylan Nolan, Staff Writer

August 23, 2020, Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back by the police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Over the next few nights, the streets of Kenosha were filled with protesters, demanding justice for Blake. Protests were popping up in almost every city throughout the country, but one night would prove fatal for two by the actions of the 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse.

On August 25th, Rittenhouse heard of the protests and decided to leave his home in Antioch, Illinois to protect local businesses from the protesters. He was armed with an assault-style semi automatic rifle. Rittenhose arrived around 10 pm when he was spotted standing on top of the roof of a car dealership with his rifle in hand. Later on in the night Rittenhouse moved around to different streets to help the police with fires and medical aid around the protest. 

“We appreciate you guys, we really do,” said a police officer to Rittenhouse and others when they drove by. The police encouraged these armed civilians to continue to “help the police force”. Many of the armed civilians had not been evaluated to know if they’ve legally been carrying their weapons. 

Around 11:45 pm, Rittenhouse got into his first altercation with the protester Joseph Rosenbaum, which led to a chase eventually ending  in a parking lot where Rittenhouse opened fire on Rosenbaum at 11:48. Following the shots, Rosenbaum was motionless on the ground, Rittenhouse running away. With a crowd of at least 5-10 chasing him, Rittenhouse falls to the ground and again, opens fire on the crowd. Another protester naemd Anthony Huber, in an attempt to take down Rittenhouse, was fatally shot. Seconds later, armed protester Gaige Grosskreutz, a convicted felon of two domestic abuse charges, two DUIs and one burglary convictions shot in the arm. Rittenhouse gets up off the ground and runs, arms up, to the police that have just arrived. Rittenhouse was not arrested that night.

The following day, Kenosha police issued an arrest warrant. Rittenhouse turned himself in that day and was arrested on multiple charges, including 1st-degree intentional homicide along with multiple other 1st degree charges surrounding homicide and reckless endangerment.

November 2nd, 2021, the trial begins, and tension is building rapidly. Rittenhouse was acquitted on the gun possession charge after a long look into the Wisconsin gun laws. The misdemeanor carried with it a maximum of 9 months in prison. Under the vague hunting laws of Wisconsin and the barrel size of the assault rifle,Rittenhouse’s gun was determined legal. It became evident to all watching the trial, that according to the gun laws in Wisconsin, he was legally allowed to be at the protest while carrying the assault rifle in the open. 

Starting withthe self-defense plea from Rittenhouse, the jury decided to acquit all five charges, including the 1st degree intentional murder that carried a maximum life sentence. While Gaige Grosskreutz was testifying, Grosskreutz affirmed that Rittenhouse fired only after he pointed his pistol at Rittenhouse. After this testimony, the prosecution’s case was left in shambles, Grosskreutz’s testimony gave the seemingly weak self defense plea a fundamental justification.

“Kyle was chased down by three men, one of which was a convicted sex offender recently released, another was a wife-beater and a felon,” said Rogue. The trial revealed the criminal history of the victims which may have influenced people to lean towards Rittenhouse’s self defense plea.

“Nobody just chilling with an ar-15 is defending themselves,” sophomore Cole Ranstrom said. Some students at Summit and many people around the country are questioning how this could be legal. The event Ignites more debate about gun laws in America, driving the intense separation between the two parties, and  their views surrounding the second amendment. 

 “I think it’s insane that he brought an AR-15 to a protest, he was looking to kill people. It’s completely unfair that he was found not guilty,” said Junior Oliver Jaques. After the verdict, some are still unsure about why he was there in the first place. Being able to bring an assault rifle into a crowd of people is shocking to many and furthers questions around the ethics of it all. 

The trial revealed the explicit reasons Rittenhouse was in Kenosha to the public. His father’s business was near where the protests were taking place, prompting him to protect it. 

“As proved in court, Kyle’s father owned a business in Kenosha, which was why Kyle was there, to protect the business from looting, fires, and to provide medical aid,” said junior Zack Rogue. Rittenhouse was there with a good intention to protect his fathers business, but as the night progressed, his good intentions led to two people dying.

“What he did wasn’t illegal apparently, but the law doesn’t justify what’s morally right and wrong. He ended two peoples lives and doesn’t seem to have remorse,” said sophomore Olivia Cosby. 

The ethics of our justice system is starting to be evaluated after the verdict of this trial. Many think that Rittenhouse’s ego may have played a part during the night of the shooting. Throughout Summit, many are upset about the verdict but even more about the laws that allowed a 17-year-old kid to publicly walk around with a Semi-automatic rifle and later end two people’s lives. An important takeaway from the controversial Kyle Rittenhouse trial is America’s need for greater balance between what is constitutionally legal and what is morally correct. 

“Legally, it was correct however it was unjustifiably immoral,” said sophomore Brady Koch.