Although the facts virtually required that the jury acquit Kyle Rittenhouse of all charges, the “not guilty” verdict may send “the wrong message” to the world, an MSNBC legal analyst said shortly after the decision on Friday.
The prosecution’s case was hampered by “bad facts,” said MSNBC legal expert Julius Kim, shortly after the 18-year-old’s full acquittal.
“This was a tough case for the state to make, because we had what we call ‘bad facts’ in terms of the state’s case,” Kim said. “Kyle Rittenhouse was attacked; he was chased, and he was also approached by someone who had a handgun in his hands.”
“There were a lot of witness problems for the state in this case,” Kim added, noting that the prosecution’s witnesses also strengthened Rittenhouse’s case that he acted in self-defense in some instances. Even at its strongest, “there was a lot of gray” in the prosecutors’ case, he said. “I think all of us who can see, we aren’t terribly surprised by the verdicts that we now have in front of us. But I am concerned that the wrong message has been sent to other people in the community.”
Moments earlier, MSNBC reporter Shaquille Brewster framed the issue by noting that a local left-wing protester and Unitarian Universalist minister named Monica Cummings had expressed “frustration” and “fear of what message” the jury’s unanimous verdict of not guilty sends to other people.
Cummings expressed disbelief that anyone would have been armed during the arson-fueled conflagration that engulfed Kenosha, Wisconsin, last August 25, which caused more than $50 million in damage to the city.
“Why would you have a military-style weapon at a peaceful protest?” Cummings asked of the riot, which CNN famously described as “fiery but mostly peaceful.”
Cummings said she worried about “armed men with military-style weapons showing up and now knowing that all they have to do is say, ‘Hey, I felt fear’ or ‘I felt my life was in danger,’ and they can shoot people.”
Cummings added that right-wing protesters may want to shoot journalists. “I’m going to tell the media, you know, you could be in the crosshairs as well, with all the rhetoric about media being the enemy of the state and so forth and so on.”
“Your microphone could be mistaken for a weapon,” she told Brewster.
Cummings said Kyle Rittenhouse’s acquittal fits America’s “history of vigilante justice in this country, all the way back to times of enslavement, when people would be deputized to go out and track down enslaved persons who ran away, to lynching mobs.”
MSNBC midday host Katy Tur then asked Kim about “the safety of peaceful protesters, if somebody comes with a gun and says that they do feel threatened,” thanks to” the precedent of this case sets.”
“It’s definitely something to be concerned about,” Kim replied. “I think there is a real concern here that people are going to get the wrong message that they can come down to these protests with long guns and that it’s a good idea, because somehow the law will protect them. But I think that’s a mistake.”
MSNBC’s “MTP Daily” host Chuck Todd also warned that “gun owners with a certain ideology” would be tempted to shoot protesters. “You know, it’s pretty obvious to me, more people — the next time there’s a protest of some sort and it may get politicized, that gun owners with a certain ideology may feel incentivized now, may feel even emboldened, and that does seem to be an uncomfortable message that may be received by some,” Todd said.
The threat of violence appears to emanate from the Left. Kenosha police announced last Thursday that they had prepared officers to deal with any violent backlash over the verdict. Interim Kenosha Police Chief Eric Larsen and Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth “said they’re prepared for the verdict, no matter the outcome,” reported the local ABC affiliate, WKOW-TV. The authorities’ curt statement hid a mountain of concern:
The Kenosha Police Department and the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department have been and will continue to monitor the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. We recognize that there are varying opinions and feelings that revolve around the trial that may cause concerns. Both of our departments have dedicated staff working in conjunction with local, State and Federal law enforcement partners to ensure the safety of our communities.
No legal analyst on cable news quibbled with the not guilty verdict in the immediate aftermath of the Kyle Rittenhouse case. Shortly after the verdict, legal expert Bob Bianchi told CNN’s Ana Cabrera that Rittenhouse had “a strong self-defense case,” and the prosecution engaged in “a rush to judgment” in prosecuting him in the first place.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.