The three men Kyle Rittenhouse shot during a protest against police brutality in Wisconsin last summer can be characterized as “rioters,” “looters,” or “arsonists” — but not victims, the judge in his murder trial ruled this week.
On Monday, Bruce Schroeder (Wisconsin Circuit Judge) laid out the finalized rules for Rittenhouse’s trialThe jury selection process will begin next week. Schroeder said that he will not allow prosecutors to use “loaded” words when describing the individuals that Rittenhouse shot, including the word “victim.”
“The word ‘victim’ is a loaded, loaded word,” Schroeder said. “‘Alleged victim’ is a cousin to it.”
Rittenhouse, then 17-years-old, shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum (then) and Anthony Huber (then 17-years-old) at a Kenosha uprising as a response to Jacob Blake’s shooting. A Black man was shot seven times in the back by a white officer.Earlier in the month. Rittenhouse also shot and injured Gaige Grosskreutz that night.
Rittenhouse joined unauthorized militia groups during the protests, traveling to Kenosha with an assault rifle under the guise of offering “protection” to local businesses. Prosecutors say they have evidence showing that Rittenhouse pursued at least one of the individuals he shotRittenhouse claims he shot the protestors out of self-defense.
Despite not allowing prosecutors to refer to the individuals Rittenhouse shot as “victims,” Shroeder is allowing defense lawyers to describe them as “looters,” “rioters” and “arsonists.”
Thomas Binger, Assistant District Attorney called the rules a double standard. noting during the court hearing that terms “such as rioter, looter and arsonist are as loaded, if not more loaded, than the term ‘victim.’”
Binger also noted that Schroeder was inconsistent in his “victims” rule, which is apparently a long-held policy of the judge inside his courtroom. “You’ve not let me call someone a victim when it was proven,” he said.
Binger argued that referring to the three men as “looters” or “rioters” is particularly unjust because these phrases serve to give the impression that Rittenhouse’s actions were justified.
Beyond barring the description of the men Rittenhouse shot as “victims,” Schroeder has ruled that prosecutors cannot bring up Rittenhouse’s connections to the Proud Boysa white-nationalist organization that has a history for inciting violence at demonstrations. Schroeder, who admitted last month he had never even heard of the group before this trial, said that Rittenhouse’s association with the Proud Boys wasn’t relevant to the case — despite the fact that shortly after the fatal shootings last year, Rittenhouse flashed a hate symbol and posed for pictures with the group in a Wisconsin bar.
Several journalists have notedThe Rittenhouse trial judge has a history of making outrageous and cruel courtroom rulings. Shroeder once ordered a 28-year-old woman convicted of retail theft to announce her criminal record to the management of any store she entered in the future — a ruling that was eventually overruled in an appeals court.
Schroeder’s biased and inconsistent rulings are so widely known that over the course of his career, hundreds of defendants have made formal requests, many of them granted, for a different judge to preside over their cases. This has been a problem. led to backlogs of cases being heard in Kenosha County.