Rittenhouse, who is now 18, is being tried for killing two and injuring one during an August 2020 protest-turned-riot. The unrest happened in the aftermath of the officer-involved shooting of Jacob Blake, who is black. Blake was seriously injured but recovered, though he suffered some paralysis from the shooting.
The protest took place in the midst of the Black Lives Matter/Antifa-led protests that had been happening in other parts of the country after the officer-involved death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd. Many of those protests also devolved into rioting and chaos.
Well before the trial started this month, it was clear from all the available evidence and video footage that Rittenhouse shot at protesters Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber, and Gaige Grosskreutz, who are all white, in self-defense. Rosenbaum and Huber died from their injuries. Grosskreutz has said he’s “missing 90%” of his bicep, and has had several surgeries on his injured arm.
As the trial has played out on television and on social media, prominent Democrats who have proudly stated over the last couple of years that they are “criminal justice reform advocates” have reacted in ways you wouldn’t expect self-proclaimed proponents of criminal justice reform to act.
For example, prominent South Carolina attorney Bakari Sellers, also a CNN commentator and former state co-chair for the failed 2020 presidential campaign of then-Sen. Kamala Harris, took to the Twitter machine last week to mock Rittenhouse after he took the stand and cried as he gave his testimony.
Retweeting a video of Rittenhouse crying on the witness stand, Sellers said that “He went with the ugly cry to win this Oscar. Gives me Tropic Thunder vibes.” Sellers, I should point out, is a criminal defense attorney who, more than most, understands the importance of presuming innocence until (if) proven guilty in a court of law.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), another self-described criminal justice reform advocate, who is also chair of the House Democratic Caucus, tweeted last week that authorities should “Lock up Kyle Rittenhouse and throw away the key.” I should point out that in June 2020, Jeffries tweeted out the following message:
“End. Mass. Incarceration. Defund the Prison Industrial Complex.”
Apparently to Sellers and Jeffries, that awful “prison industrial complex” is acceptable when it comes to Kyle Rittenhouse, who also, apparently in their view, is not worthy of the type of fair trial that they advocate for in their criminal-justice-reform work.
Both Sellers and Jeffries are black. Rittenhouse is white. Is the reason for their hostile treatment of Rittenhouse based in part on his race? Because one couldn’t possibly imagine them saying the same things about Rittenhouse if he were black. In fact, they’d very likely be demanding people wait until all the facts were out before casting judgment, something they obviously haven’t done in this case.
It’s almost as though Sellers and Jeffries are displaying racist tendencies towards Rittenhouse, which would be very troubling if true considering the powerful positions they hold.
I guess maybe for Sellers, Jeffries, and those who agree with them, there are exceptions to the “we shouldn’t judge a defendant until all the facts come out” rule. Unfortunately for them, the facts have long been established in the Rittenhouse trial, as the prosecution in fact has shown over and over again, although rather unintentionally.
As the old saying goes, you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts. As the modern version (via Ben Shapiro) goes, facts don’t care about your feelings, either. And that goes double for pompous lawyers and elected officials who enjoy talking out of both sides of their mouths.
Media analyst Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah and is a regular contributor to RedState and Legal Insurrection.