In what’s been described as a major win for the far right, US teenager Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted after shooting dead two men (and injuring another) at a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin in August 2020.
Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time of the shooting, was charged with a range of crimes, including first-degree intentional homicide, but last week acquitted of all charges. Rage Against the Machine have expressed outrage at the outcome of the trial in a message posted to social media:
“What defines innocence in America?” the band write. “Tamir Rice was executed by police for playing with a toy. Nobody was charged. Ahmaud Arbery went jogging and was murdered in broad daylight.
“Kyle Rittenhouse armed himself and killed people who were fighting for racial justice. He claimed self-defense. This is the settler logic of America’s founding myth: whiteness must cast itself as the victim in order to justify its violence against those resisting its oppression. Welcome to the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave.”
For context, Tamir E. Rice, a 12-year-old Black American boy, was killed in Cleveland, Ohio by 26-year-old white police officer Timothy Loehmann in 2014. Rice was carrying a replica toy gun. Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed 25-year-old Black man, was shot and killed by Travis McMichael, who – based on zero evidence – assumed Arbery had committed burglary.
The unrest in Kenosha began after the shooting of a Black man by a white police officer. The two people killed by Rittenhouse were both white.