I Don’t Like Watching The Institutions I Respect Melt Down Into A Single Congealed Unprincipled Gloop

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A lot of organizations issued statements in response to Kyle Rittenhouse’s acquittal. The ACLU’s really jumped out at me. “Despite Kyle Rittenhouse’s conscious decision to take the lives of two people protesting the shooting of Jacob Blake by police, he was not held responsible for his actions, something that is not surprising,” said Shaadie Ali, interim executive director of the ACLU of Wisconsin. Brandon Buskey, director of the ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project, added: “Kyle Rittenhouse was a juvenile who traveled across state lines on a vigilante mission, was allowed by police to roam the streets of Kenosha with an assault rifle and ended up shooting three people and killing two.”

If you know anything about the ACLU’s history or reasons for existing, these are very strange — disturbing, I’d argue — statements. The ACLU of Wisconsin seems to be saying Kyle Rittenhouse should have been convicted. What else could a statement noting that he “was not held responsible for his actions,” issued the day of his full acquittal, possibly mean? If you don’t think he was guilty of the crimes he was accused of, there’s nothing for him to have been “held responsible” for. The ACLU is supposed to stand on the side of vulnerable people facing a justice system that has a chronic tendency to overcharge and to withhold from suspects and defendants their full constitutional rights. Why is the ACLU of Wisconsin siding with that system — especially without any further explanation as to why this was an unjust ruling?

As for Buskey’s statement, right off the bag he fires off a big, helpful DON’T TAKE ME SERIOUSLY flare by reciting the seemingly obligatory line about “state lines” — which is so meaningless to this case, and so frequently recited, that it’s basically become a meme at this point (say it with me: Rittenhouse lived in an Illinois town that is right on the Wisconsin border and has myriad family and social ties to Kenosha). But more importantly, he seems to be arguing that the police should have detained or shooed away Kyle Rittenhouse before any of the violence occurred. What else could he mean when he complains that Rittenhouse “was allowed by police to roam the streets of Kenosha with an assault rifle”? 

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