By Vincent L. Hall
The Department of Justice issued a press statement that reintroduced and reassured me that White Privilege is alive, well, and functioning correctly at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Watching the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse in real-time proves the privileged status of white men exists, regardless of age. Meanwhile the Justice Department settled the civil case involving the nine racially motivated murders by Dylann Roof.
“Today, the Department of Justice announced that it has reached an agreement in principle to settle the civil cases arising out of the June 2015 Mother Emanuel AME Church mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.
These settlements will resolve claims by 14 plaintiffs arising out of the shooting. Plaintiffs agreed to settle claims alleging that the FBI was negligent when it failed to prohibit the sale of a gun by a licensed firearms dealer to the shooter, a self-proclaimed white supremacist, who wanted to start a “race war” and specifically targeted the 200-year-old historically African-American congregation.
For those killed in the shooting, the settlements range from $6 million to $7.5 million per claimant. For the survivors, the settlements are for $5 million per claimant.” America’s courts are more apt to settle civil cases involving racism than addressing the criminal elements of the same.
In this case, Kyle Rittenhouse thought he was an adjunct super cop who could kill without consequence. Sadly, the criminal acts he stands trial for sound about as familiar as the police killings of far too many unarmed Black men.
The judge in Kyle’s case ordered prosecutors not to describe Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum as “victims.” The judge in the George Floyd made a similar caveat; he didn’t enforce it. “Victim,” they contend, is a loaded word. Funny how loaded words are only offensive when loaded at the wrong people.
If you visited Dallas County courtrooms tomorrow and got a nickel every time you heard “victim,” you could support yourself. You may even be able to afford the defense team that Rittenhouse’s supporters hired.
Paul Butler, former prosecutor, a frequent guest at MSNBC, and contributing columnist in the Washington Post, pointed out a few other possible injustices parsed out by Judge Bruce Schroder.
“Over the objections of prosecutors, he will allow the jury to see a video of the police thanking a group of vigilantes and handing them bottles of water. The defense will use the clip to suggest that not only was Rittenhouse entitled to be in Kenosha with an assault rifle, but the local police were also actually glad he was there.
Yet the judge turned down the prosecutor’s request to admit as evidence video of Rittenhouse beating up a teenage girl who got into a fight with his sister. Nor will the judge allow video of Rittenhouse stating, 15 days before the Kenosha shootings, “Bro, I wish I had my [expletive] AR, I’d start shooting rounds at them” about people he suspected were shoplifting.
Last winter, Rittenhouse flew to Miami, where he met with the leader of the Proud Boys, a white supremacist-adjacent organization that was active in BLM counter protests. Unfortunately, the judge won’t let the jury know about that or another occasion when Rittenhouse hung out with Proud Boys members at a bar.
The prosecutors contend that all of this is compelling evidence of Rittenhouse’s propensity for violence and his criminal intent. The judge insists it’s irrelevant.”
How this trial will end is beyond my ability to guess or prophesy. The defense attorneys have dressed up this police wannabee to resemble the young adult version of Beaver Cleaver. Contrast that to visuals of young Black and Brown males led into court in handcuffs and leg shackles. Even when minority and poor white perpetrators wear suits and ties, they look disheveled because the clothes are too tight, too loose, or too cheap.
The judge’s position is that the word “victim” is loaded and prevents the accused from receiving a just verdict. Yet, daily, hundreds of young men and women suffer injustice. If you don’t believe me, look at the stats. America’s jails are “loaded” with individuals whose crimes are far less heinous than Kyle Rittenhouse.
BTW, I guess the N-Word, used twice by Rittenhouse’s attorney wasn’t loaded at all. Justice…No Just Us!
Vincent L. Hall is an author, activist, and an award-winning columnist.