The trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, who is accused of murdering two people after traveling across state lines to allegedly protect other people’s property with an illegally obtained AR-15, is well underway and has been something of a doozy so far. The judge, Bruce E. Schroeder, has been widely accused of favoring the defense and doing everything he can to ensure Rittenhouse is set free after he pleaded not guilty, claiming self-defense.
On Wednesday, Rittenhouse himself took the stand to describe what happened from his point of view but broke down crying in the middle of it, prompting the judge to call for a break. Those who are hoping for a guilty verdict, however, do not appear to believe for one second that he was sincerely upset.
Rittenhouse was in the middle of describing how his victims approached him after he had fired off shots from his AR-15, which he was not allowed to carry at age 17, as they attempted to disarm him to prevent further casualties. The teen fired multiple shots at his pursuers, killing Kenosha resident Joseph Rosenbaum, and later Anthony Huber, both of whom were unarmed and attempting to end the deadly violence by getting the extremely dangerous weapon away from Rittenhouse.
The murder trial began on November 1 and has been watched closely by racial justice advocates. Rittenhouse was far from home in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after riots were sparked by Officer Rusten Sheskey shooting an unarmed Black man, Jacob Blake, four times in the back as he leaned into his vehicle to check on his children. Blake was left paralyzed by the shooting. None of the officers involved in the incident were charged with a crime.
In addition to the background, this case has gained attention for the behavior of Judge Schroeder, who just today has repeatedly yelled at the prosecution for various possible offenses, causing the lead prosecutor to complain that he can’t finish a sentence without being interrupted. He also ruled before the trial began that the two men killed by Rittenhouse cannot be referred to during the trial as “victims,” but all kinds of nasty euphemisms are allowed with regard to the people protesting mass and ongoing police violence against BIPOC.
He also barred the prosecution from showing Rittenhouse’s connections to the violent white nationalist gang the Proud Boys or bringing up the time he attacked a woman. Schroeder has sided disproportionately with the defense and has repeatedly chewed out the prosecution for asking the defendant basic questions.
The defense has also been reportedly threatening to call for a mistrial. The decision to have Rittenhouse testify was a surprising one, as there are many risks taken whenever the accused takes the stand, allowing the prosecution to cross-examine.
Before he began crying, Rittenhouse claimed that he had come to Kenosha to help administer medical aid to people wounded in the protests, though it’s unclear how he intended to accomplish that with an AR-15 he refused to give up even after shooting Rosenbaum four times. He also claimed that Rosenbaum threatened to kill him, though there do not seem to be any witnesses or videos to corroborate this. The crying started when he began describing his final and fatal encounter with Rosenbaum.
The nature of the alleged breakdown has people remembering those videos where white women teach you how to cry on command, as well as when Rittenhouse went to bars and celebrated and took selfies with people soon after he killed two people.