In a closely followed and widely publicized trial, the facts marshaled there showed that 18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse was neither a white supremacist nor guilty of any crime when he defended himself from a mob in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The jury voted unanimously he could go free.
None of that prevented radical student groups at Arizona State University from demanding authorities bar him from the campus or studying online. Students marched Dec. 1, chanting “Killer Kyle off our campus” and “Lock him up.”
Dismissing the jury’s verdict, the ASU’s Students for Socialism stated, “Kyle Rittenhouse is still guilty in the eyes of the people.” It demanded the school deny him admission, smearing him as “a violent, blood-thirsty killer” and a “high-profile right-wing fascist icon.” The group, along with Students for Justice in Palestine, the Multicultural Solidarity Coalition and MEChA de ASU, sponsored the rally.
But facts matter in any trial. Working people have a right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We have a right to a trial, by a jury of our peers. These rights were won in blood in revolutionary struggles. It’s good that in Rittenhouse’s case the facts were heard, including video evidence of the shootings, a jury weighed them and reached its verdict.
But Freshman Zein Hajaig told The Associated Press, “I don’t think anyone with a prior charge of those sorts would even be able to attend here.” This throws our constitutional rights out the window. Rittenhouse, Hajaig claimed, went to Kenosha “to intimidate and hurt people of color or people who are supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.”
Yet Rittenhouse has explained he supports Black Lives Matter. He now has 24-hour security. A spokesperson for his family said the “goal is to ensure Kyle’s safety as he moves on as an 18-year-old young man in college.”
ASU President Michael Crow said Rittenhouse can reapply to take courses and that his application would be processed as any other would be. Rittenhouse withdrew from the online courses he’d been enrolled in during the trial but said he plans to reapply. He told reporters that he hoped to study nursing or law.
During a podcast interview on conservative network the Blaze, host Sydney Watson congratulated Rittenhouse for the Kenosha shootings.
But they were “nothing to be congratulated about,” Rittenhouse replied. “If I could go back, I wish I would never have had to take somebody’s life.”
He added, with “hindsight being 20/20, probably not the best idea to go down there.” He said he intends to destroy the gun he took to Kenosha. Rittenhouse also spoke against attempts by Republican congressmen and conservative commentators to award him and treat him as a hero. “I don’t think I did anything heroic,” he said. “I just defended myself.”