Is Kyle Rittenhouse a patriot or a bumbling kid in over his head? The verdict is likely to shift the “window on what’s acceptable.”
Kyle Rittenhouse walked through Kenosha, Wisconsin, with a rifle slung across his chest and shoulder.
According to the friend, the weapon was intended for hunting on a friend’s property up north.
However, Rittenhouse claims he took the Smith andamp; Wesson AR-style semi-automatic with him on that night in August 2020, when he volunteered to protect property damaged during protests the night before.
He used it to kill two people and shoot three others before midnight.
After a two-week trial, a jury will soon decide whether Rittenhouse is guilty of charges that could land him in prison for the rest of his life, including murder.
Was the then-17-year-old forced to act in self-defense while attempting to prevent crime, as he and his defense attorneys claim, or did Rittenhouse — the only person in a well-armed crowd to shoot anyone — provoke people with his weapon, inciting the bloodshed, as prosecutors claim?
It’s a debate that’s played out across the country over the use of guns, particularly at protests like the one in Kenosha after a white police officer shot and killed Jacob Blake, a Black man, or in other cities over pandemic-related restrictions.
Some see Rittenhouse as a patriot protecting an American city from destruction when the police were unwilling or unable to do so.
Others see an irresponsible teen in over his head who is obsessed with brandishing a gun, or someone looking for trouble or targets to shoot.
Some people noticed Rittenhouse on the streets of Kenosha that night because of his apparent youth.
But, for a while, he was just another gunman.
The protest in Kenosha was one of many that drew armed militias or counter-protesters that year.
Police Officer Pep Moretta of Kenosha and others testified that protesters were armed as well.
“We were surrounded the entire night,” Moretta said, adding that “there were probably more people armed with weapons than not.”
The shooting occurred as the US battled the coronavirus pandemic, and three months after the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white police officer in Minneapolis sparked nationwide protests, some of which were violent.
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