Tell us, Big Bird, what’s the real difference between these two things? pic.twitter.com/xhM4Wf9v1P
— David Cay Johnston (@DavidCayJ) November 13, 2021
In 2014, thirteen-year old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by two police officers in a playground while the youngster was brandishing a toy pistol. A grand jury declined to indict the cops, the city of Cleveland settled a civil rights lawsuit brought by the family, and five years after the incident the Department of Justice chose not to charge the officers.
As of this writing, Kyle Rittenhouse faces five felony, and one misdemeanor charges resulting from his decision to travel from Illinois to a black lives matter protest with an illegally-possessed AR-15. He may be convicted of everything, nothing, or- more likely- one or two offenses.
Although we don't know what the outcome of this trial will be, we do know that all three victims- two shot dead, one only wounded- are white. We know also that Judge Bruce Schroeder has barely concealed contempt for these victims.
Prior to the start of the trial, Schroeder ruled that the prosecution must refer to these three individuals not as victims but by their names, and to the two killed as "decedents." Although he barred use of the term "victim(s)," he ruled against the prosecution's motion that the defense be prohibited from referring to the men as "looters, rioters, arsonists or any other pejorative term."
Whether Mr. Rosenbaum, Mr. Grosskeutz, and Mr. Huber were "looters, rioters, or arsonists" was not yet determined. But these three individuals became victims once they were shot, even while Rittenhouse's culpability is yet to be determined. Two in death, one in life, they remain victims.
The white judge's barely concealed attempt for these three (white) men is ostensibly unrelated to their race. Presumably, the Justice Department believed the police officers in Cleveland, Ohio did not believe that the police officers in Cleveland, Ohio were motivated in part because their victim- Tamir Rice- was black. However, skepticism was common at the time, and Johnston remains more than skeptical.
Your mileage may vary, and the role that race played in one or the other incident is debatable. Not debatable, however, is that between the two, there are four victims. Three of them are deceased, two of them white and one dead. And unless Kyle Rittenhouse is convicted of the most serious charges, no one will pay a penalty even remotely proportionate to the one paid by the individuals gunned down.