Our criminal justice system needs to change. It is flawed in ways that are atrocious, outrageous and disgusting. In some respects it is racist, political, and caste favoring.
Using these valid grievances with our criminal justice system and it’s flaws to mob, attack and persecute a 17 year old kid without due process, without knowing all the facts, and without seeking the truth diligently does not serve to effectuate the much needed changes in the criminal justice system that those acting in this manner want to see.
The year is 2020, the atmosphere is dark, tensions flaring. Flames licking the sky from the burning buildings of local businesses that owners spent their entire lives to build only to lose in a single night. The nation has taken to the streets in response first to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis then exasperated and inflamed again shortly thereafter by the shooting of Jacob Blake.
High profile individuals stoking the public sentiment with their version of events learned from social media and not from first person experience. “Trusted” media sources beholden to the sentiments of the current societal zeitgeist and not the truth or morality, ethics, or concern about the accuracy of their reporting added fuel to the fires by publishing first for rating the sensational and untrue or partial events only to later do the fact checking and retracting. The original inaccurate reporting still lingering in the minds of the millions of viewers festering because the corrections never made it to them.
This is where 17 year old Kyle Rittenhouse’s life was dramatically changed forever. Rittenhouse, a then unknown kid from a small town in Illinois decided to help clean up the graffiti of a Kenosha high school and then help administer first aid to racial justice protesters in the town where his father lives, after his shift working as a life guard earlier in the day in the same town. He later ended up killing two people and injuring a third in what we now know to be self defense.
Those who called for Rittenhouse’s conviction before the trial without due-process; those who do not respect the verdict post trial; those who dog-whistled, defamed and shamed Rittenhouse with stigmatizing accusations without the facts; those who attack the Judge, witnesses for Rittenhouse and his supporters; without being present the night in question or during the trial are dangerously wading into a slippery slope of precedent that would have set America back 50 years rather than propel meaningful and needed changes to the criminal justice system. They are perpetuating the very racist narrative that they proclaim to be fighting against.
Theoretically, Justice is equal and blind. What is good for one person is good for the next under the law. Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges against him with an “affirmative defense” of self defense and so to should everyone who acted in a similar manner.
The same week that Rittenhouse was on trial there were two other notable and similar murder trials happening in America with very similar facts and very similar results.
Is possible that the attention of the Rittenhouse trial may have made all the difference in the minds of the juries in these cases? We might never know.
Andrew Coffee IV
The same week as Rittenhouse was on trial, so too was Andrew Coffee IV on trial. In 2017 the career violent criminal, was charged with murder after a firefight with police and SWAT members resulted in the death of his then girlfriend. After deliberating, the nearly all white jury in the matter saw past his race and even past the prior bad acts of Coffee IV and determined that he was innocent of the death of his girlfriend and was acting in self defense.
Ultimately Coffee IV was rightly convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm and other offenses that were unrelated to the murder charge he was exonerated of. He is not a “nice person” by any means of the word if his known past criminal history and institutional conduct is any indication.
The Coffee IV jury came to the correct decision.
Rayshondre Gartrell Tarver
Also the same week as the Kyle Rittenhouse trial was the trial and acquittal of Rayshondre Gartrell Tarver. In October 2019 then 19-year-old Tarver was arrested for a double homicide after crossing state lines with a firearm (uncontested fact) to sell a large quantity of marihuana to 18-year-old Montrell Dequan Johnson and 17-year-old Terreon Deontae Joseph who were laying in wait to ambush and strong arm rob Tarver.
Tarver and his supporters do not contest that Tarver crossed state lines with a firearm and marihuana with the desire to sell the pot to Johnson and Joseph. Due to a malfunctioning 9mm handgun Johnson and Joseph were unable to effectuate the strong arm robbery -and likely murder- of Tarver. Tarver’s attorneys argued successfully at trial that the possession and even desire to sale the pot was not a felony and thus this was not a case of being in the commission of a felony that resulted in death. Tarver was justly exonerated using a self defense defense.
In Georgia, unlike Wisconsin there is a “duty to retreat” in self defense cases. Both sides stipulated that Tarver could have retreated after the 9mm malfunctioned but instead engaged in such a manner that resulted in the death of his would be killers. In this particular case the mostly white jury was nullified on their own accord and decided that they would ignore the “duty to retreat” and not convict Tarver.
The Tarver jury came to the correct decision.
In 2018 Chrystul Kizer was 17 when prosecutors allege she killed child human sex trafficker and pedophile pornographer Randall Volar III and afterwards setting fire to his home and fleeing in his vehicle. Her case is still pending prosecution by the same District Attorney’s Office who prosecuted Rittenhouse.
Supporters and family of Kizer were able to raise over $400,000 to post her bail and help with legal expenses. Her defense may be able to employ a Wisconsin State law adopted in 2008 and known as “affirmative defense to self defense” which means what she is accused of doing was a “direct result” of being a human trafficking victim. This is the same defense that Rittenhouse has used -that he killed two and injured a third as a “direct result” of the criminal acts being committed against him.
Indeed, according to appeal court records the Kizer defense team are now looking closely at the Rittenhouse defense and have requested to amend an appeal pleading -likely to reflect the precedent set in the Rittenhouse trial. Had Rittenhouse been convicted there might not have been hope for Kizer.
We can thank Rittenhouse for defining the affirmative defense of self defense rules in Kenosha, Wisconsin and suffering through his ordeal so that Kizer can use the same defense to hopefully walk free soon.
The American Civil Liberties Union, The Anti-Defamation League, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and other high profile individuals and organizations who persist in perpetuating the “white supremacy” narrative and the “unequal” protections of persons of color verse white persons inside the criminal justice system while using Rittenhouse as their example are setting ignorant and foolish precedent that does more harm than any good for their cause of criminal justice reform.
In the case of child sex trafficking victim Kizer there might actually be justice and she might actually finally be set free as a result of the same statutes being used to defend her solidified in precedent set by the Rittenhouse trial.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to Justice everywhere.Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The ACLU, ADL, NAACP might want to consider these words of wisdom and rethink their positions on convicting an innocent kid and bowing to mob mentality.
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