Kyle Rittenhouse: a case of self-defence or white supremacy?

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On 26 August, Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old boy from Antioch, Wisconsin was arrested and charged for First Degree Intentional Homicide. This was for the altercation that took place in Kenosha the previous night.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the authorities believe he had shot three people, two of whom are dead. 

What was Rittenhouse doing in Kenosha?

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Kyle lives around 20 miles away from Kenosha. Since the shooting of Jacob Blake by cops on 23 August, Kenosha has been seen protests and riots for the Black Lives Matter movement.

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Kyle Rittenhouse : a case of self-defence or white supremacy?
Image Source-REUTERS/Stephen Maturen

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Several small businesses were targeted, windows were broken, vehicles were set ablaze.

“One woman who works in the part of Kenosha that was heavily damaged last night, including where she works, said the rioting is “sickening” and that the rioters shouldn’t take it out on innocent people”, writers Julio Rosas while posting an interview with Linda whose furniture store was demolished as part of the protests.

She is seen expressing her solidarity with Jacob Blake and believes innocent civilians shouldn’t be targeted for the protestor’s anger towards law enforcement.

Allegedly, Rittenhouse is seen being interviewed before the shooting in a twitter clip here. He says, “If somebody is getting hurt, I’m running into harm’s way and that’s why I have my rifle. I need to protect myself obviously, but I also have my medkit.”

Kyle Rittenhouse : a case of self-defence or white supremacy?
Image Source- Journal Times

In the events leading up to the shooting, a video by The Rundown Live, reportedly shows the law enforcement thanking the local militia which Kyle is a part of and offering them water.

Why did the firing take place?

This clip posted on Dana Loesch’s page of a youtube video shows Kyle being chased down across a parking lot. What started this incident is still unclear.

The man with the red shirt tied to his head is filmed chasing Kyle.

He throws something at Kyle, some believe it may have been a Molotov Cocktail, which is a gasoline bomb while others believe it was a simple paper bag or a bottle which was reflecting light.

After firing the man, Kyle is seen standing by him and calling what seems to be the medic until some people start running after him.

Kyle runs and trips, a man with a skateboard hits him who then gets shot. Another protestor chasing him is pictured having a Glock, a semi-automatic pistol.

Fortunately, his wounds were non-fatal.

Kyle Rittenhouse : a case of self-defence or white supremacy?

 

After carefully analyzing the video, Kyle seems to be restricting his shootings to people who attacked him first.

The man with the Glock was re-assessed and didn’t have the rifle firing at him until he jumps Kyle.

So, does that mean Kyle can avoid charges for self-defence?

It is too soon to say if the jury will even rule his shootings as self-defence.

There is insufficient information about the events leading to the shooting. Apart from that, Kyle was an underage, carrying an assault-style rifle, which is a Class A demeanour.

What does the public think of Kyle?

In an interview with Vice, Brent Ford, a 24-year-old photographer who had witnessed the entire scene says, “He had his hands up and they told him to get out of there, even though everyone was yelling that he was the shooter, the police didn’t seem to hear or care what the crowd was saying. I had kinda gotten the feeling the police were overwhelmed and didn’t really know what they were doing most of the night.”

Tucker Carlson, an American political commentator, on his TV show showed support for Kyle’s actions.

He said, “So are we really surprised that looting and arson accelerated to murder? How shocked are we that 17-year-olds with rifles decided they had to maintain order when no one else would?”

Several people, like NYT journalist Nikole Jones and CNN employee Keith Boykins, have strongly condemned Carlson’s words on twitter.

The United States of America has seen a violent political polarisation in the years leading up to Donald Trump’s win for the Presidential Office.

The current atmosphere leading up to the 2020 Presidential Elections has been volatile.

The country has the most COVID cases globally, a record low in employment rates as of April 2020 and the people have increasingly divisive opinions on the future of the country.

Is the country on a brink of another Civil War?

Violence is the inescapable characteristic of war.

Recent protests in the country have seen increasing rioting. Recently, a portland man Adam Haner was beaten unconscious by the protestors of the Black Lives Matter movement.

There has been no large scale condemnation for incidents like these by the left.

On the other hand, celebrities like Emily Ratajkowski and Hailey Sani are sympathizing with the rioters online.

The people on the right are forming militias, as seen in the Kenosha riots to protect their properties, something they believe is a constitutional act in the States.

Internal conflict in the country can have unprecedented consequences, it can even break apart a nation, like the disintegration of one of the world powers- the USSR.

It is unclear if America will stand the test of time in remaining the world hegemony.

We can hope both sides of the political aisle can reach a middle ground because unless we condemn violence everywhere, the United States of America will have many more riots and shootings to reckon with.

So, is Kyle a white supremacist?

We do not know Kyle’s internal racial beliefs but he stood against the rioters in the BLM movement and was pro-police.

The fundamentals of this movement call for an end to systematic racism against blacks. That should mean anybody against the movement is racist.

However, some black politicians like Candance Owen do not believe movements like BLM are beneficial for their community.

Larry Elder, a famous black talk show host condemns BLM. He believes the movement’s birth in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014 was based on lies and manipulation of facts by the media.

Not many people know that Michel Brown, the man who was shot by the police officer Darren Wilson did not have his hands raised.

He was charging towards the police officer. This was corroborated by the Brown family’s own medical expert.

The local grand jury and the Federal Investigation ruled out that Darren Wilson was justified for using force.

The media has been responsible for widely circulating false narratives to incite racial divisions time and again.

It is imperative that we uphold factually correct details, condemn violence everywhere and allow people who are wrongfully suffering to get the limelight that they deserve so that appropriate societal and systematic reforms can take place.

This article will not assume a connection of supremacy for having political differences, but it will condemn the violence that has been raging in America.

The shooting of Jacob Blake, the beating of Adam Haner, the killings in Kenosha, the riots that burned small businesses and a 17-year-old being part of a militia, which was supported by the police to protect the neighbourhood are all unfortunate events that should never have happened in 2020.

“The cause of liberty becomes a mockery if the price to be paid is the wholesale destruction of those who are to enjoy liberty.”

–  Mahatama Gandhi

Other articles: BLACK LIVES MATTER: A HISTORY OF HISTORY REPEATING ITSELF, THE ‘MONUMENTAL’ FALL OF COLONIAL SUPREMACISTS

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Vanshika Yadav
She is currently studying English Literature from the Hansraj College, University of Delhi. Read her other writings at www.vanshikayadav.in

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