One Thing I Don’t Feel Is Safer

From Esquire, by Charles P. Pierce:

So the country is pretty broken.

The fact that Kyle Rittenhouse walked away free from the courthouse in Kenosha cannot be a surprise. The trial was headed on a straight line to this verdict for weeks, nudged along by a judge who clearly was enjoying the spotlight that had come down on his private little satrapy, and by a mediocre prosecution that also was hamstrung by the quirks of Wisconsin law. For example, there is no state manslaughter statute, which surely might have been helpful.

The most poignant words out of the courthouse came from the families of the two people Rittenhouse killed, Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, who said that they felt abandoned by the prosecution, that the prosecutors did not seem to advocate for the dead and wounded. Given that, in almost every trial, the prosecution spares nothing to use the family members of the victims to inspire sympathy from the jury—and, occasionally, from the judge as well—the fact that the families of the people whom Kyle Rittenhouse killed felt abandoned strikes me as extraordinary. I don’t know where all the Victims’ Rights firebrands are, but they weren’t in Kenosha. Hell, the people Kyle Rittenhouse shot weren’t even allowed to be referred to as victims in court.

What I do not feel right now is safer.

I’ve tried to imagine how I would have felt were I on a sidewalk in Kenosha that night and saw this pudgy little fellow walking up the center of the street with his AR-15, preferred weapon of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, strapped across his chest. I guarantee I would not have felt safer. I would not believe that Kyle Rittenhouse was there to protect me. Upon seeing him, I would’ve concluded that things were getting dangerously out of control and that it was time to find some safe place to be for a while. I would wonder why somebody gave Lumpy Rutherford a military-grade weapon and turned him loose in a situation already grown volatile.

I remember seeing protestors with long guns showing up at some of President Obama’s rallies and thinking that something serious had changed in our politics. Open carry transforms any mass event into a potential firefight. Open carry transforms an already violent event into a potential bloodbath. It is only a matter of time, and after yesterday’s verdict, you can reset the Doomsday Clock a little closer to midnight.

Not long after the verdict, the family of Anthony Huber, the second person Kyle Rittenhouse killed, issued a statement that said, in part:

We did not attend the trial because we could not bear to sit in a courtroom and repeatedly watch videos of our son’s murder, and because we have been subjected to many hurtful and nasty comments in the past year. But we watched the trial closely, hoping it would bring us closure. That did not happen. Today’s verdict means there is no accountability for the person who murdered our son. It sends the unacceptable message that armed civilians can show up in any town, incite violence, and then use the danger they have created to justify shooting people in the street. We hope that decent people will join us in forcefully rejecting that message and demanding more of our laws, our officials, and our justice system.

The police officer who shot Jacob Blake seven times, leaving him paralyzed, faced no criminal trial.

Kyle Rittenhouse killed two people and wounded a third in the aftermath, and walked out of the courthouse a free citizen—a killer, if not a murderer.

Two killed. Two wounded. No crime committed.

Welcome to 2021.

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