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AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, Democracynow.org, the War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. In Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday people took to the streets to protest the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse Friday and to remember his victims, chanting “Anthony and Jojo” as they walked the same route Rittenhouse took when he shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz during protests in August 2020 that followed the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Joseph Rosenbaum was the first person Rittenhouse shot with his AR-15-style rifle. Joseph Rosenbaum was 36 years old. He had been released that same day from a Milwaukee hospital where he had been treated for a suicide attempt. He was unarmed when he was shot by Rittenhouse. Rosenbaum was shot four times, first in the groin, then in the hand and thigh as he faced Rittenhouse and then was shot in the head and in the back.
After Rittenhouse killed Rosenbaum, several protesters who believed Rittenhouse was an active shooter begin chasing him. 26-year-old Anthony Huber tried to disarm him by hitting him with what he had in his hand, his skateboard. Rittenhouse shot and killed him within seconds. Gaige Grosskreutz was the only person who survived being shot by Rittenhouse. Anthony Huber’s parents, Karen Bloom and John Huber, said they were heartbroken and angry over the verdict which they said did not deliver justice for any of Rittenhouse’s victims. This is Anthony Huber’s father John Huber responding to the verdict on CNN.
JOHN HUBER: We are still in shock here. That guy gets to run free and he is now a hero. This is my son right here. This is Anthony. We lost our son and there’s no justice right now for our family and there is no closure. There wasn’t going to be justice in that Kenosha court with that judge.
AMY GOODMAN: After Rittenhouse’s acquittal, Anthony Huber’s girlfriend Hannah Gittings, who was with him the night of the protest, told reporters she wasn’t surprised by the verdict, saying, “We know that this system is a failure.” This is Hannah speaking Friday outside the Kenosha courthouse.
HANNAH GITTINGS: I miss Anthony every single day. Every day I wish that I could come home to him and unload some of this weight that is on my shoulders, but I can’t because he is dead. Now the system is telling me that nobody needs to answer for that, and I have a problem with that. I think I have been very open in expressing my empathy for the other side of this but that is just not reciprocated back.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Hannah Gittings. She was standing next to Jacob Blake’s uncle, Justin Blake. Anthony Huber’s parents also released a statement after Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty, saying, “Make no mistake: our fight to hold those responsible for Anthony’s death accountable continues in full force. Neither Mr. Rittenhouse nor the Kenosha police who authorized his bloody rampage will escape justice. Anthony will have his day in court.” There are now several civil lawsuits filed that are still pending. Huber’s parents filed a federal lawsuit in August against the Kenosha Police Department, the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department as well as the sheriff and police chief that alleges they allowed Rittenhouse and others to “patrol the streets, armed with deadly weapons, to mete out justice as they saw fit.”
Grosskreutz has also filed a lawsuit alleging that Kenosha officials and law enforcement were aware of, supported and collaborated with armed vigilantes on the night of the shooting. For more, we go to Chicago where we are joined by Anand Swaminathan, an attorney representing the parents of Anthony Huber. Thank you so much for joining us, Anand. If you can respond to the verdict and talk about what we learned and what we didn’t learn in this trial?
ANAND SWAMINATHAN: Thank you very much for having me, Amy. We just heard from Jacob Blake’s family and I think one thing that is striking right away of course is their statement that they were not surprised at all by this verdict. There are many people who have said since this verdict came down that they were not surprised by the result. That is I think something we all have to wrestle with. We are living in a society right now where so many people just knew in their heart of hearts that there would be no justice in this case, that there would be no accountability for Kyle Rittenhouse and that that is the system and the state of affairs that we are living in. That is extremely problematic.
AMY GOODMAN: Why don’t we start from the beginning, when the judge, to say the least, surprised many when he said that the victims of Rittenhouse could not be referred to—the men who were killed by Rittenhouse, Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum, could not be referred to as “victims” but they could be referred to as “arsonists, looters and rioters.”
ANAND SWAMINATHAN: I want to clear a couple of things up there that are very important. One, there was no evidence ever presented at the trial to suggest that Mr. Huber was an arsonist or looter or anything else. The judge said, “If you can come up with that evidence, you may be able to present it.” No such evidence was ever developed. So I want to be very clear about that.
When it comes to the ruling that you could not refer to Rittenhouse’s victims as in fact victims, I want to say this. First, they were absolutely victims. Anthony Huber, Gaige Grosskreutz and Joseph Rosenbaum were all victims of Kyle Rittenhouse. But for Kyle Rittenhouse’s decision to come to Kenosha and come to Kenosha armed with a weapon of war, they would be alive today, period. So yes, they absolutely were victims. Anthony Huber’s mom and dad, Karen and John, absolutely believe their son was a victim of Kyle Rittenhouse.
In terms of judicial rulings, the evidentiary decision whether or not certain terms and terminology should be used in the courtroom, I do want to have some caution on weighing in on that point, only because I don’t want to be outcome-determinative about what we think evidentiary rulings should be. Ultimately, I’m a civil rights lawyer and many of us represent people who are accused and we believe in the rights of the accused, so we should be thoughtful about weighing in, in an outcome-determinative way, about what we think evidentiary rulings should be. But that does not change the fact that absolutely these young men were victims of Kyle Rittenhouse.
AMY GOODMAN: If you can tell us a little bit about Anthony Huber? I think one of the things that is very clear in this trial—we know about this young man. We watched him cry in the courtroom, Kyle Rittenhouse. We don’t know about his victims. Tell us who Anthony Huber was. The Blakes, Jacob Blake’s father and uncle, just said that he was a friend of Jacob Blake who was shot by the police officer seven times in the back. Why he came out that night and then what happened?
ANAND SWAMINATHAN: Thank you for that because it is a great point. The world didn’t get to hear from Anthony Huber and he did not get the due process that Kyle Rittenhouse got. He didn’t get an opportunity to present his case, have jury instructions in his favor and so on. He had judge, jury and executioner. So thank you for that opportunity. Anthony Huber was loved. He was loved by his parents. He was loved by Hannah and many others. Many people obviously know now the story of his involvement with skateboarding. He was a tremendous skateboarder. Those areas in Kenosha, downtown Kenosha, were his park. Those were his community. That’s where he spent so much time. The idea that he would be a person there for anything other than to show support for Jacob Blake, who it is correct that he knew, is simply wrong. Consistently, when we talk to people in the family about Anthony, what they say is he was an absolutely loving person. He was loved by all those around him.
AMY GOODMAN: We were showing video of him skateboarding. If you could talk about that night? In many circles, especially in Kenosha and the Black Lives Matter activists, they refer to him as a hero. He had already killed Jojo. That’s Joseph Rosenbaum. He was not armed, Anthony Huber, but he went to take down this shooter, what he called—I think Gaige Grosskreutz called him an active shooter, which many people were running away. He was running towards him because he was afraid he would kill others.
ANAND SWAMINATHAN: That’s right. As Anthony’s parents have said repeatedly, what has happened in the aftermath of this incident and some of the hateful demeaning comments that have been made to them over time is very painful because they know that in reality, their son was a hero. When you have a dangerous situation—and Kyle Rittenhouse had created a severely dangerous situation. He had created a powder keg situation. He had already killed a man. Many people ran away. Anthony Huber stepped in to try and stop this person. In almost any scenario, we call that person a hero, and in almost any scenario we celebrate somebody who steps into danger to try and protect others. Because of the polarized nature and politics around this case, it has turned into something else entirely. But it should not be lost: Anthony Huber was absolutely a hero as we all intend and mean that term.
AMY GOODMAN: His parents saying he is a hero who sacrificed his own life to protect other innocent civilians. The judge’s cell phone went off during the trial, and it played a ringtone for the song “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood, which is the opening song played at Donald Trump rallies. Do you feel this judge, Judge Schroeder, was impartial?
ANAND SWAMINATHAN: Well, I think it would not have mattered what happened in that courtroom in terms of judicial determinations and so on, and evidentiary rulings. What ultimately you had here—and as the family said, “We were not surprised.” As Jacob Blake’s family and others have said, “We were not surprised.” The problem is you cannot remove the context that surrounded a case like this. Ultimately you have a criminal justice process that resulted in a jury of I think 19 out of the 20 people between the jurors and alternates were white. You have a situation in which the way the evidence is going to be perceived is itself impacted by race and other issues that play an impact.
Ultimately, I think there are many aspects of this case—and I’m very appreciative to the Blake family who you interviewed earlier for all of their work organizing and being active to try to help people understand what goes on in these cases and what the injustice is here. But think about in this case, we cannot forget the racial context surrounding this case. First and foremost is—I’m so glad you put the Blakes on because of course the story of the Rittenhouse shooting and Anthony Huber’s case ultimately starts with the shooting of Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man. It ends with a white 17-year-old with an assault rifle shooting three people and literally walking away with the smoking gun in his hands and the police, they don’t just not shoot him, they just let him walk away. So the juxtaposition of these sets of circumstances is stark and it says something about this country.
But that’s not the only racial context that exists here, as important as it is. The other one is, how does a jury perceive arguments of self-defense? When they look at an individual and make these subjective assessments about whether or not you really perceived a threat, whether you were in fact yourself a threat, the extent to which we believe in your Second Amendment right to carry a gun or not, all of these things are impacted by race. The idea that a Black man could have walked into that town with an assault rifle, created a menacing and dangerous situation and then turn around and argue self-defense and say, “Hey, the dangerous situation that I created by showing up with an assault rifle, I’m using that as a justification to shoot people”—
AMY GOODMAN: Anand Swaminathan, we have to leave it there. I thank you so much. Thanks for joining us.
Originally posted by Democracy Now on 2021-11-22 07:45:52