top of page

A Verdict in Kenosha

On a Friday in 2021, in late November, a jury arrived at a verdict in Kenosha. For those who don’t know headlines from the saga, a then-17-year-old stood accused of twice-murder, plus the attempt to kill a third.

Why though does a verdict, this verdict, the one that found Kyle Rittenhouse “Not Guilty,” why does it matter to those of us far afield from there or any of the chaos?

A liberal tweet in social media said: “…by a jury of his peers, indeed,” which reads that the jury was skewed from the start. So sets the tenor again with race, privilege and injustice. But was it? Or was an outcome already wrested — instead — by a media that made up its mind, never mind what facts may come out?

It’s unfortunate that any of this has been rotted by politics. But now it seems near everything is viewed in some way through that lens. Kenosha, late in the summer of 2020 — in the lead up a contentious and polarizing presidential election — proved no exception.

If you listened to much of the national news, this teen, Kyle Rittenhouse, was a rifle toting white supremacist and militiaman set to grind axes and even scores with Black Live Matter, when racial tensions flared there about the police shooting of a black man named Jacob Blake. Except, in Kenosha, everyone involved in this shooting was white. And Rittenhouse was not a white supremacist or in a militia.

The trial unfiltered showed a different take from what was spewed on the news: an idyllic teen who set out to keep from falling down the town that his father and grandparents lived in. Kenosha in fact burned in the days that followed the Jacob Blake shooting. Looters and rioters roved. Police, it seemed, stood back or realized they were overwhelmed by a chaos.

Much the same had already gone on elsewhere, to bone-rattling effect. Mobs had pillaged and ruled in Minnesota after the police killing of George Floyd that May. And that June, bands of supposed “anti-fascists” overran and occupied whole blocks and buildings in Seattle, Washington, their manifestation of the battle cry self-govern and to defund police.

There, six city blocks in Seattle fell to “anti-fascists” as the city’s own “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,” what they self-anointed as the CHAZ, before rebranding it as “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” to sound less menacing. The name change didn’t matter. They still blocked streets and patrolled with rifles in ways that John Carpenter’s dystopian film “Escape From New York” would be proud. None of this was, as it were, a “mostly peaceful protest” as dubbed repeatedly by much of reporting national news.

So by the time of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, a rage was primed again. The trial, unfiltered, through collections of in-the-moment video, showed just that — a mob intent on raging. They dismayed when extinguishers squelched a rolling dumper fire on its way to gas station pumps. There was posturing. And threats. One warned Rittenhouse himself that if he got Rittenhouse alone, he’d kill him.

Then: a jump kick to the head. Swings and hits with a skateboard. A foot stomp. And the run up with a loaded, pointed pistol. This had been the scrum that Rittenhouse was meant to succumb to by violent men who have criminal’d before, now wound tight in a rage-filled night.

So why are we on the sidelines rooting for one side or the other? To the families of the ones shot — the verdict is a crush of truth — that their sons or boyfriends brought a rage to a teenage boy found alone amid the riot, that they themselves were guilty, for which this boy had reason to fight to lethal ends for his own life. For their families, that’s their resolution, not pretty, but true. They were in camp with monsters that this boys was forced to defend from.

To Rittenhouse and his family, the verdict means he isn’t a murderer. And though the grist, he went, but not a link to militias or white supremacy, the buzzwords of progressives to raise temperatures and kindle their craved dissent.

In the end, an ideal 17 year-old found himself in way over his head. Rittenhouse was a boy who should never have been there, though he had all rights to be like any of the others. And the jackals roved that night, to find him alone, a doughy, fresh faced boy with wide eyes. And they were bent on having their way with him.

To fight those monsters that roam when chaos reigns, that’s what won in the a rightful verdict on an awful, unfortunate night in Kenosha. It’s still perplexing, why the Left or anyone would want to let the chaos reign.

Jason James is an award-winning essayist and journalist. Follow his work on and at


A Season Cover link.jpg

Check out more on GreatPacificReview

bottom of page