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Daily News Lessons (show all)

Two perspectives on verdict in Kyle Rittenhouse trial

November 22, 2021


Washington Post columnists Jonathan Capehart and Gary Abernathy discuss Friday’s verdict in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse successfully plead self-defense in the deadly shootings in Kenosha, Wisconsin, that became a flashpoint in the debate over guns, vigilantism (practice of upholding the law following perceived offenses without legal authority) and racial injustice in the U.S.

Rittenhouse, 17 at the time of the shootings, was charged with homicide, attempted homicide and reckless endangering for killing two men and wounding a third with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle in the summer of 2020, during a tumultuous night of protests over the shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, by a white Kenosha police officer. Rittenhouse’s attorneys cited the state’s self-defense laws and was found not guilty on all five counts. The families of the victims say justice was not carried out and safety advocates say the verdict will have major public safety ramifications. For more background on the case, read this article.

Note: The discussion about the trial ends at the 6:55 minute mark.

Five Facts

  • Who is Kyle Rittenhouse and what were the charges he was facing in court until last week?
  • What were some of the reasons the jury may have found Rittenhouse not guilty?
  • Why does Jonathan Capehart believe “there is pain in the Black community” after the Rittenhouse verdict?
  • Why does Gary Abernathy say there was a harmful “rush to judgment” about Rittenhouse’s actions?
  • How might the verdict affect civic participation going forward, including attending protests for issues like Black Lives Matter?

Focus Questions

Regardless of the legal outcome of the Rittenhouse case, what changes do you think would help prevent a similar tragedy?

Media literacy: The two pundits in this segment represent differing political perspectives. Did the difference of opinion here help add to your understanding or thinking about the Rittenhouse case or Congressional bills? Why or why not?

For More

  • To better understand the charges that Rittenhouse was facing, see this breakdown.
  • See this lesson about an ongoing trial that also hinges on a self defense claim.

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