What Kyle Rittenhouse’s Tears Reveal About America
By Dr. Peniel E. Joseph

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Preface: Many issues captivate our hearts and minds. We are informed by our spouse, our children, friends, teachers, colleagues, media, and the intelligentsia. Bill T., a Yonkersite, suggested that the Yonkers Tribune present issues that impact Yonkersites and to which they may wish to opine. His suggestion, and those of others who have a suggestion regarding a specific subject, are requested to direct the subject(s) that interests them to the editor. That issues may often be contentious is a given. In order that there will be a flow of ideas, please note that any comment that is in any way unrelated to the subject will be expunged, despite the fact that such tactics in prior times been  permitted to stand. Should the topic be worthy of your comment, please explain it. One word or two won’t cut it. Explain yourselves or don’t bother. We will endeavour to bring topics of every milieu for your input. Suggestions welocomed! Kindly, Yonkers Tribune Publisher/ Editor Hezi Aris (WHYTeditor@gmail.com).

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Peniel E. Joseph is the Barbara Jordan Chair in ethics and political values and the founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is also a professor of history. He is the author of “Stokely: A Life” and “The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.”  

Dr. Pineal E. Joseph

AUSTIN, TX — November 20, 2021 — Despite last year’s demonstrations supporting racial justice and substantive efforts at political reform, the system that devalues Black lives remains largely — and powerfully — intact.

Kyle Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old on trial in Kenosha, Wisconsin, for shooting three people and killing two of them, represents the epitome of White privilege in America run amok. Rittenhouse, who has pleaded not guilty to six charges including reckless homicide, intentional homicide and attempted intentional homicide, cried during emotional testimony on Wednesday. Anyone watching the proceedings who was unfamiliar with the events that led to this trial would be forgiven for assuming that Rittenhouse was the victim of an unspeakable crime rather than being its accused perpetrator.

His protracted sobs — and people’s telling reactions to them — spoke volumes about the moment America now finds itself in. Whether or not Rittenhouse is convicted, the perspective he represents — galvanized by the anger, fear and prejudice of White Americans — has already achieved its ends: normalizing a kind of racial privilege exposed, but far from extinguished, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder last year.

During racial justice demonstrations in Kenosha in the summer of 2020 that were sparked by the police shooting of Jacob Blake, Rittenhouse allegedly crossed state lines, driving from his hometown of Antioch, Illinois, and later arming himself with an AR-15 style rifle. Yet Rittenhouse tried to tell a different story with his tears on the stand, portraying himself as a non-aggressor, saying that he felt in fear of his life as he fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and shot and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, 27.

The baby-faced vigilante has become a hero to many among the far right-wing political establishment, who have hailed him as a paragon of virtue brave enough to stand up to the sinister forces of the Black Lives Matter movement. The circumstances of his trial reflect the way in which race shapes America’s unequal criminal justice system.

Rittenhouse, even after police were alerted to an active shooter being on the scene, was never arrested and turned himself in, accompanied by his mother. Amazingly, Rittenhouse was released on a $2 million bail, money raised by right wing supporters. He was seen photographed with actor Rick Schroeder shortly after being released — who told the New York Post that he was “infuriated” and “Kyle’s life [was] being destroyed.”

The insistence among many on seeing Rittenhouse — a teenager with a fearsome weapon — as a sympathetic figure and not a menacing one stands in stark contrast to the stories of a number of young Black men and boys, especially those perceived (fatally) by others to be threats. For example, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was gunned down by George Zimmerman in 2012. Zimmerman’s acquittal helped inspire the creation of the #blacklivesmatter hashtag that grew into a global movement. In 2014, Cleveland police officers shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was Black and in possession of a toy gun; police described him on the radio as “maybe 20” and said they were afraid for their lives.

He shot them dead, but judge won’t let them be called ‘victims’

Early on in the trial, Judge Bruce E. Schroeder ruled that prosecutors could not refer to Rosenbaum, Huber and Grosskreutz as “victims,” but Rittenhouse could refer to the men he shot as “looters” and “rioters” (each words with a loaded racial history) if he could show evidence they were those things (even though two of them are dead and one has never been charged with a crime for any behavior associated with the protest). Over the course of Rittenhouse’s trial, Schroeder, who some legal experts consider to be sympathetic to the defendant, and the prosecutor have sparred further over legal procedures, and clashed during the prosecution’s cross-examination of Rittenhouse.

The Rittenhouse case is also unfolding at the same time as Gregory and Travis McMichael and William Bryan are on trial in Brunswick, Georgia, for the killing of Ahmaud Arbery last year. These three White men have pleaded not guilty (the defense contends Travis McMichael shot Arbery in self-defense) and claim to have tried to make a citizen’s arrest of Arbery as he was out jogging.

On Tuesday, a detective testified that Gregory McMichael told him he never saw Arbery commit a crime — even though a reasonable suspicion of one is a necessary component for a citizen’s arrest to be lawful. Another police officer who interviewed McMichael after the shooting testified that he never mentioned a citizen’s arrest.

While these trials are ongoing, what’s clear is that Arbery and many other Black Americans never received the grace or benefit of the doubt afforded to Rittenhouse who — despite being armed with a military-style weapon — was pepper-sprayed and let go by Kenosha Police. These systemic failures were further crystallized during the jury selection in Georgia: Gregory and Travis McMichael and Bryan are being judged by a jury whose composition has scholars and law experts making comparisons to the Jim Crow era.

Prosecutors objected to the defense’s move to strike Black potential jurors; although Judge Timothy Walmsley acknowledged the appearance of “intentional discrimination in the panel,” he ruled to seat the jury with 11 White members and 1 Black member because the defense made race-neutral arguments for striking the Black potential jurors.

We live in a society where a Black man can be allegedly killed for jogging in the “wrong” part of Georgia and the White men charged in his murder face a nearly all-White jury, while a White teen armed for war can be hailed by many as a hero.

This staggering treatment sends a toxic message to the criminal justice system, social movements trying to change that system and the entire nation. That message fuels the delusions behind the January 6 assault on the US Capitol. It is an inherent threat to our democracy. The actions of White vigilantes, whether in downtown Kenosha, Wisconsin or at the nation’s capital, have been reimagined in conservative far-right mediascapes as courageous, civic-minded patriotism.

“I defended myself,” Rittenhouse claimed during his testimony. If the jury believes these words, Rittenhouse will likely go free. His defense team has also made a motion for a mistrial with prejudice, meaning he couldn’t be retried.

If any of that happens, it will be to America’s enduring shame.

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First published by CNN on November 12, 2021

TribuneWhat Kyle Rittenhouse’s Tears Reveal About America
By Dr. Peniel E. Joseph

Comments 49

  1. Justice prevailed in Kenosha on 11/25/21 for 2A and the right to self defense. Do not let the politicians divide us with their rhetoric.

      1. Phony investigation. It was only orchestrated to remove Khader from office. Ask the Council why they never followed up. It was designed to get Pinocchio Collins-Bellamy in office.

        1. Dream on, Khader stooge. If Khader had paid the rent, he could have produced the receipts and made the Mayor and entire City Council look like fools, and shown that the investigation was politically motivated. Might not have won him the election, but he could have proven that at least one half of the allegations were “phony” as you put it. Instead, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” reigns supreme.

          And for the record, Mike Khader (and seemingly all of the men in his family) treated his staff, particularly women, like absolute garbage. I hope the truth comes to light.

          1. I guess the silly council should all send a letter to Liam asking who paid his election law bill with Harris Beach llp ??? also can we see Rubbos lease and payments to his landlord that does business in the city and for good legit reasons rubo has voted on items that affect the landlord when he should of recused him self ???

          2. I want to see the permits for NAME DELETED UNTIL SUBSTANTIATION CAN BE VERIFIED. They are operating illegally and putting children at reisk. Send your allegations and proof to eHezi@hush.com. Kindly, Hezi

  2. While the events in Waukesha Wi is a tragedy even more so as children were targeted. Early unconfirmed reports as of now is that the person of interest in custody is a proclaimed Black Lives Matter activist, and may of had an ax to grind due to the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict. There’s also speculation that this person of interest in custody has in the past spewed anti white rhetoric on social media accounts. I do not know the exact demographics of the crowd at the parade, but seeing the clips that it appeares to be predominantly white people there. It will be interesting to see if this person of interest in custody is indeed charged for this heinous incident. Will the likes of Bill Deblasio, Kathy Hochul, and Jamaal Bowman whom all have comments uploaded to this forum denounce the purported racism? And if so will their comments appear on this forum if it turns out this incident was a reaction to the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict?

  3. Please Hezi there needs to be a story about the NAMES DELETED taking all the Turkeys at PCNY and Juices for Life.

    Hezi’s Resp[onse: Send me the information. Direct email to eHezi@Hush.com . TKU, Kindly, Hezi

  4. Hezi
    John Khader used MPAC funds during the pandemic to fill his kitchen with food from restaurant depot and costco
    Can you ask the DA to look into. I have a lot of information to share.

    1. If you have something to share, please send the info to eHezi@hush.com. If you have proof share it with me or if you prefer, you can contact the office of Westchester County D.A. Rocah’s office on your own. Both avenues can lead you to a resolution if there is actual proof. I have heard this issue bandied about but not one scintilla of fact, rather all “gossip”. I am uncertain if there is truth to the issue or there is another rationale. Then again, if you have facts that prove what is being stipulated here as a reality. The allegations, if true are serious. If not, they are threatening and uncalled for and should desist. Kindly, Hezi

    2. The khaders will be eating Turkey for the next 365 days, so embarrassing!!
      They act as if they are personally donating Turkey’s meanwhile they get everything for free as they beg companies and organizations.

  5. A black on black blood🩸bath that’s been going on in Chicago every weekend over decades of Democratic rule with thousands of victims is ignored as business as usual by the White liberal “media” and black “activists” alike but eliminating rioting and looting career criminal white anarchists is a stain on America? Okay 👍 I got it I’m prepared for the woke virtue signaling group think holidays with my crazy family. I’ve been in numerous riots and have been in and responded to countless shootings as a retired NYPD detective with two masters degrees and 35 years experience. You have no idea how sick immigrants who came here from communist and Islamist hell holes are of your ridiculous narrative because these ignored Polish, Russian, Chinese, orthodox Jewish, Latin American and Arab constituents of Brooklyn Borough president Eric Adams have all suffered far worse and far more recently than African Americans and their small businesses are the ones being burned to the ground. All they see is “Black privilege” that excuses uncivilized behavior! Kyle’s tears are their tears!

  6. Typical replies from liberal NY scum politicians, I don’t see any outrage when the black Brothers are attacking innocent white people. Check out the local news at ight and tell what people are committing the most heinous crimes. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

  7. “This verdict is disgusting and it sends a horrible message to this country. Where is the justice in this?” Mayor Bill de Blasio wrote. “We can’t let this go. We need stronger laws to stop violent extremism from within our own nation. Now is the time.”

    We should not be shocked. We should be focused on swift and righteous action. pic.twitter.com/sCAyj8ywH6

    — Eric Adams (@ericadamsfornyc) November 19, 2021

  8. This verdict is disgusting and it sends a horrible message to this country.

    Where is the justice in this?

    We can’t let this go. We need stronger laws to stop violent extremism from within our own nation.

    Now is the time. https://t.co/r8TTicFn0U

    — Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) November 19, 2021

  9. Kyle Rittenhouse used an assault weapon to kill two people. This is not justice.

    If there was any question about why we need strong gun safety laws, this is your answer. This should never have been allowed to happen in the first place.

    We have a lot of work to do.

    — Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) November 19, 2021

    1. First of all, it was not an assault weapon. Just because it looks scary doesn’t make it one. Yes, Kyle should have just been killed by rioters and then everything would have been ok. You are a bigger idiot than Cuomo.

  10. Yesterday, a jury in Kenosha failed to convict Kyle Rittenhouse of all charges in his murder trial. Rittenhouse traveled from Illinois to Wisconsin, and — with an AR-15-style rifle — murdered two people and shot another who were peacefully protesting at a Black Lives Matter protest last summer after Jacob Blake was shot by police.

    And yesterday, Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges.

    Shameful doesn’t even begin to cover it, and describing the verdict as heartbreaking is only scratching the surface.

    My thoughts are with the Blake family, the family and loved ones of those whose lives were stolen, and our communities who continue to face trauma day in and day out. I’m holding everyone impacted in my heart.

    Hezi, I hope you’ll join me in channeling the anger and heartbreak we all feel in this moment/
    What we witnessed yesterday is a part of a system functioning as designed and protecting those it was designed for. Debilitating and unsurprising moments like this define our justice system and bankrupt our ability to trust democracy.

    Racism and white supremacy remain the bedrock of our “justice” system. This is why Black and brown people don’t trust our systems. This is why they don’t trust America all together, and until we can completely dismantle our systems and have the courage to implement something that reflects every person who calls America home — we will not progress.

    At this moment, Hezi, we may feel broken. But we are resilient, and our struggle for accountability, justice, and healing continues.

    Peace and love,
    Congressman Jamaal Bowman (NY-District 16)

    1. One of the people pointed a loaded handgun at Rittenhouse – another one was assaulting Rittenhouse with a skateboard so what are you Talking about Bowman-nothing unusual from u except your racist rhetoric-where is ur outrage over the killing of an unarmed white female by a Black police officer Michael Byrd? Shameful Bowman that u like the others in “Squad” constantly distort or mislead the public with false facts-Jacob Blake was armed with a KNIFE and he admitted to that fact Bowman- u hate whites, the military and law enforcement. Hopefully ur gone in another year.

  11. So thankful this jury got it right. Kudos to the jury for not reaching a verdict based on politics, and the narrative the media was pushing. Kyle Rittenhouse was guilty in the court of public opinion by the likes of Joe Biden, and just about all in the mainstream media. Joe Biden even labeled Rittenhouse a “white supremacist.” In the end the wheels of justice prevailed in this case. The judicial system worked to its fullest extent. This case was very weak against Kyle Rittenhouse, and the state prosecutor should be disbarred for the way he presented that case. Blatant lies as proven by surveillance and the state witnesses. Oh and the people Kyle Rittenhouse shot in self defense were white. Since when did it become racism for a white to kill two other whites???? Sadly, the cnn msnbc pundits will bamboozle many fools into believing this case was racially motivated

    “Chic”

  12. ” Despite last year’s demonstrations supporting racial justice “, if rioting, burning and looting are just “demonstrations” we are in far more trouble than anyone could imagine.

    “Kyle Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old on trial in Kenosha, Wisconsin, for shooting three people and killing two of them, represents the epitome of White privilege in America run amok”. You’re right! He should just have taken a beating like the idiot prosecutor said.

    “The system that devalues Black lives remains largely — and powerfully — intact.”
    “Chicago appears headed toward its highest annual homicide count since 1996, when murders totaled 796.” It seems black lives only matter when a white person is involved.

  13. Dear Hezi,

    Like you I woke up this morning exhausted by the racism that permeates the United States – in our communities and institutions. Yesterday’s verdict out of Wisconsin in the Kyle Rittenhouse case reinforces for many observers the inequality and the disparate treatment experienced by Black and white Americans, including children, in the criminal legal system. The Sentencing Project is committed to finding solutions that end violence, erase racial disparities, advance justice, and build communities where all children thrive.

    Kyle Rittenhouse was 17 years old when he fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum and Kyle Huber and injured Gaige Grosskreutz. In Wisconsin’s criminal legal system, this means he was automatically seen as an adult. Pretending he was an adult denied him access to age-appropriate interventions, like mental health counseling and opportunities for rehabilitation and restoration. In the adult system the options are solely punishment or exoneration. His age didn’t protect him from entering the adult system, but his whiteness protected him from its consequences.

    Black children are more likely to be arrested, prosecuted, waived to adult court and placed in custody than white children in almost every state, and Wisconsin’s disparity is among the worst anywhere. These unjust disparities cause extreme harm to children and communities of color, including Latinx and Tribal youth.

    I urge you not to forget the uneasiness or anger you feel right now about the harm this country inflicts every day on predominantly Black and Brown children. This injustice must advance our movement for justice. Demand that kids not be thrown away despite the hurt they may have caused, that all children are seen as children, that we hold the courts, media and ourselves accountable to anti-racism practices and policies, and that public resources prioritize growing healthy children.

    We can’t do this alone; we need you with us to transform these broken, unfair systems. The Sentencing Project will work to make that change happen.

    Amy Fettig, Esq.
    Executive Director
    The Sentencing Project

  14. “This isn’t justice, this is just racism. 
 
“Once again, our two-tiered justice system shows its ugly face. It’s sickening that a seventeen year old who killed two people is being lionized as some hero by those who are comforted by the status quo and who wield power through systems of white supremacy. What’s most concerning is that this ruling represents a frightening future – a world where white vigilantes can act with impunity, put others in danger, and then shoot to kill, while claiming self-defense from threats they caused themselves. We cannot become a country where people are encouraged to resort to violence to resolve political disputes. We cannot allow our society to fall to a place where we see Kyle Rittenhouse copycats – be it in the streets or in the halls of power. 
 
“I extend my deepest condolences to – yes – the victims of Kyle Rittenhouse and their families. And let us keep up the fight for them and all Americans who, no matter their skin color, or religion, or beliefs, deserve full justice under the law.”

    Local 32 BJ President Kyle Bragg
    ###

    With over 175,000 members in 11 states, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property services union in the country.

    SEIU32BJ.org

    1. Lt M. Byrd who is Black kills an unarmed Ashili Babbitt who was a 35 year old White female and no charges were ever filed against him-Black male kills a White female and there is no sense of injustice from the left and its Black racists.

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