Kyle Rittenhouse, who apparently is no longer a student at Arizona State University, remains the new poster boy for white privilege.
The then-17-year-old Illinois resident crossed state lines into Wisconsin carrying an assault-type weapon during a time of civic unrest, wound up killing two men and horribly wounding another, but was acquitted of all charges by a jury.
Like it or not, that is how the system works.
We should, and must, accept it.
But what about what happened afterward?
Trump says Rittenhouse is a 'good, young guy'
At least three Republican members of Congress offered internships to Rittenhouse, who at best could be described as a naïve vigilante. One of them is Arizona’s own crank-in-chief Rep. Paul Gosar, who tweeted:
Justice was served for #KyleRittenhouse and he is fully exonerated. As I said last year, obviously self-defense. I will arm wrestle @mattgaetz to get dibs for Kyle as an intern.
Justice was served for #KyleRittenhouse and he is fully exonerated. As I said last year, obviously self-defense.
I will arm wrestle @mattgaetz to get dibs for Kyle as an intern. https://t.co/kon65IB1d9
— Paul Gosar (@DrPaulGosar) November 19, 2021
As if it’s a good idea for armed, untrained, teenagers to be set loose in communities where there already is turmoil.
Not long after the verdict, Rittenhouse and his mother were afforded the opportunity to travel to Mar-a-Lago in Florida and meet former President Donald Trump. The two posed for photos together, smiling and giving thumbs-up signs.
And Trump said of Rittenhouse, “He came over with his mother. Really a nice young man. And what he went through, that was prosecutorial misconduct. He should not have had to suffer through a trial for that. He’s a really good, young guy.”
Where's the love for the Central Park Five?
Particularly when you compare it to what Trump has said, and continues to say, about the exonerated Central Park Five.
In 1989, Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam and Korey Wise were wrongfully convicted of raping and beating a woman in Central Park.
After they were arrested Trump took out a full-page ad in four New York City newspapers with the headline: “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!”
No DNA evidence linked the five young men to the crime.
They confessed, later saying they were coerced. Still, they were convicted and sent to prison.
Irrefutable proof denied ... for some
Then, in 2002, a convicted murderer and rapist, Matias Reyes, confessed to the crime. Not only did his DNA match that found at the Central Park crime scene, but he also knew elements of the crime that weren’t known to the public.
The five men were released from prison. (Ken Burns did a very fine documentary of the case.)
I don’t recall a single Republican member of Congress offering any of them internships.
And rather than being invited to Mar-a-Lago by Trump, the former president continues to contend that the five are guilty, even when faced with incontrovertible DNA evidence of their innocence.
Trump has said of the five (who eventually were awarded a $41 million settlement), “My opinion on the settlement of the Central Park Jogger case is that it’s a disgrace. A detective close to the case, and who has followed it since 1989, calls it ‘the heist of the century.’”
The disgrace is Trump’s ugly prejudice in the face of irrefutable DNA proof of innocence.
It illustrates a few of the striking differences between Rittenhouse, who was acquitted at trial, and the Central Park Five, who were exonerated by DNA.
Rittenhouse, who was declared not guilty, killed two men and maimed one.
The Central Park Five, who were mistakenly declared guilty, did not kill or maim anyone.
Rittenhouse is white.
The five … are not.
Reach Montini at email@example.com.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Central Park Five – 1 Kyle Rittenhouse = white privilege