On Nov. 19, Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges in his trial over fatally shooting two people and wounding one person. This Kenosha, Wis., shooting caused nationwide protests and debates over gun violence and racism in the U.S. However, the failure of the justice system to condemn these violent acts has been my biggest problem with the Rittenhouse case.
There is little doubt in my mind that gun violence and racism were involved in the shooting, and I’m so angry and exhausted with shooters getting away with literal murder. I’m starting to doubt whether the court system in the U.S. is the best method of bringing justice to cases like this.
When defense attorneys get cases like this one, the main concern is not helping the defendant tell their truth. Attorneys want to win, and that means the trial is like a game. The defense will spin the truth, bend the rules, and manipulate the jury to get the acquittal.
We’ve seen this similar strategy in several recent gun violence cases. In instances of police shootings, for example, the main argument for the defense is that the defendant was acting in “self-defense.”
There are obviously valid cases of self-defense, but playing the self-defense card when someone is fatally shot feels disingenuine. There was no reason for Rittenhouse to kill people, even if he felt threatened.
Attorneys also tend to spend a lot of time emphasizing or debating insignificant parts of the case. In the Rittenhouse trial, attorneys were going back and forth asking Rittenhouse if he knew about the gun he used, whether he knew it was deadly or the kind of ammunition it had. These questions are certainly not irrelevant, but it felt like the attorneys were trying to get Rittenhouse to say things that made him look good or bad instead of getting to the truth of the matter asserted.
In the U.S., when a jury makes a decision that people don’t like, we still have a tendency to say that we respect their decision, and we just have to live with the verdict. I personally don’t respect this trial’s verdict, and I wish there was a way to hold Rittenhouse accountable outside of the justice system.
In too many cases of gun violence, defense attorneys are able to find loopholes to protect murderers. This isn’t an issue with the attorneys — this is an issue with the entire justice system. Defense attorneys are paid thousands, sometimes millions of dollars to win a game of logic, not help shed light on the truth.
The verdict of the Rittenhouse case shows us that the system isn’t working, and we need to accept that. The U.S. justice system has gone untouched for too long, and too many murderers can walk free because of it’s loopholes. The past keeps repeating itself, so we need to make structural changes.
Karen Larionova is from
Eden Prairie, Minnesota.
Her majors are English, education, and Russian.