Editorials, Opinion

If Rittenhouse had stayed home, two men would be alive

For weeks, the nation’s attention was on the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse for the deaths of two protestors in Kenosha, Wis., and the wounding of a third.

When the jury delivered its verdict, Rittenhouse was found not guilty of all charges.

No matter how you feel about the case, the simple matter is that Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber should not be dead, because Kyle Rittenhouse should never have been in Kenosha the night of Aug. 25, 2020.

We’ll say it again: He shouldn’t have been there. Period.

Rittenhouse lived in Antioch, Ill., with his mother, though his father lives in Kenosha. When the protests started, Rittenhouse was at home with his mother, watching the multiple days of unrest play out. On Aug. 25, 2020, he drove across state lines with the intent to attend the protests — armed.

Rittenhouse was a 17-year-old child — yes, child, legally a minor — at the time who had given a friend cash and asked him to buy Rittenhouse an AR-15 style rifle because it “looked cool,” and Rittenhouse could not legally purchase it for himself. The gun was stored at the friend’s stepfather’s house. On the night of Aug. 25, Rittenhouse retrieved the gun before going to downtown Kenosha with the same friend who had purchased the gun for him.

Rittenhouse said he went to Kenosha to defend property from rioters and looters and to give medical assistance.

To be clear:

According to U.S. law, the penalty for destruction of property is not death.

According to U.S. law, the penalty for rioting is not death.

According to U.S. law, the penalty for looting is not death.

Rittenhouse may very well have feared for his life. He was, after all, a child surrounded by chaos.

But he should never have been there.

Because on that night, Rittenhouse was not a kid with a toy gun playing hero: He was a young man, armed with a very real, very dangerous assault rifle, in a town where gun-toting, self-described militiamen had descended in droves to “help” law enforcement.

His very presence, patrolling the streets, made others fear for their lives. Multiple witnesses testified to believing that Rittenhouse was an active shooter. Two of Rittenhouse’s victims — Huber and Gaige Grosskreutz, who was wounded — pursued him after he shot and killed Rosenbaum.

Maybe they feared for their lives, and for the lives of others, as much as Rittenhouse says he feared for his.

On that night, Rittenhouse took two lives and destroyed countless others — his victims’, their loved ones’ and his own.

On that night, Rittenhouse was still legally a child, but he was old enough to understand that actions have consequences — and that adult actions have adult consequences. Everything that unfolded was a direct result of his decision to go play real-world warrior in Kenosha — to take the law into his own hands. He had no business being there that night — not as a vigilante, and certainly not as a 17-year-old minor.

All of this could have been avoided if he’d just stayed home.