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The Disappointing but Expected End to the Kyle Rittenhouse Trial

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

The summer of 2020: when the rest of the world realized living in the United States as a black person isn’t as “equal” as it should be. The Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Jacob Blake (and way too many before them) flooded both social media and city streets with the undeniable truth: Black lives are stolen by police, the people who we thought were supposed to protect us, as well as people trying to act like them. It’s for this reason that the Kenosha unrest shooting carried out by Kyle Rittenhouse wasn’t a surprise, but devastating nonetheless.

First, a quick recap on the Kenosha unrest shooting. On August 23, 2020, a 29-year-old black man named Jacob Blake was shot seven times by officer Rusten Sheskey, and the shooting was followed by rallies, protests, marches and property damage. On August 25, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony M. Huber and injured Gaige Grosskreutz with a semi-automatic AR-15 style rifle. Rittenhouse traveled from his hometown of Antioch, Illinois to Kenosha, Wisconsin to the protests to “protect businesses” and “provide medical aid” and left with charges of first-degree intentional homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, reckless endangering and illegal possession of a weapon by a minor. 

The trial began on November 2, and the verdict was announced on November 19 — after 3 ½ days of jury deliberation. The illegal possession of a weapon by a minor charge was dropped due to a loophole regarding the length of the barrel of the gun and Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all four other counts. Completely unarmed Black men and boys have been shot and killed on sight for just looking suspicious, but a white, underage vigilante who killed two innocent people walked away scot-free. Upon first glance, it sounds like a shock. How could our so-called justice system fail so badly? To the entire Black community, this was anything but a shock; it was expected. Even after an entire Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and the summer protests of 2020, one thing has always been clear: justice is few and far between for Black people in the United States.  From Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old Black boy who was killed by an officer for carrying a replica toy gun to Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old Black boy who was shot and killed by a “neighborhood watchmen” for walking home with a bag of Skittles, neither families received justice, and the list sadly goes on. Black people, especially Black men have never been seen as equal in the courtroom, and are almost always assumed to be criminals. Kyle Rittenhouse, on the other hand, a man who killed two people with a firearm he legally shouldn’t have been carrying in the first place, is “innocent.”

With all this being said, we have to ask ourselves: what can we do to fix this? I can’t give you the answer, and no one else can, because there isn’t a straightforward answer. How do you fix a system that was broken from the beginning? All I know is that it’ll take a massive overhaul and a lot of time. One can only hope that one day, Black people will be able to walk out of the house without fear that they’ll never return. 

Naziah Roberts is a junior at UCF majoring in Clinical Psychology and minoring in Early Childhood Development and Education and Social Inequality and Diversity. You can often find her trying out a new dessert recipe, making a new Spotify playlist, or reading about astrology when she isn't busy learning about the inner workings of the human mind! She is pursuing a career as a Clinical Psychologist for underprivileged children.
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