Let us be clear. Kyle Rittenhouse is a murderer. Whether the law was able to convict him or not, there is no dispute that he killed two people by willingly and actively putting himself in a situation that will lead to violence. Years long efforts to empower white men with open carry, stand your ground, and ridiculously expansive self-defense laws were eventually going to lead to this. And these laws, along with a weird judge, less than competent local prosecutor, and well funded defense formed a perfect storm that led to his acquittal. But justice was the biggest loser. A just society doesn’t allow the killing innocents without consequences.
So what can be done now? Obviously, he can’t be retried for the same crimes ever. But there is still possibility of extracting some level of justice:
1. Rodney King police model
In 1991, LAPD officers brutally beat Rodney King during an arrest for drunk driving. A bystander video taped the incident which led to the state charging them for excessive force. However, all were acquitted by a mostly white jury in conservative Simi Valley. Then, the DOJ charged the officers in federal court for violating King’s civil rights. Since the state and federal governments are separate sovereigns, double jeopardy didn’t apply. In any case, while the incident was the same, the charges were different. Most officers were convicted in the federal court and served prison terms.
Something similar can be done for Rittenhouse. The DOJ can charge him for violating the victims’ civil rights. They can further charge him on federal weapons charges, either for transporting a gun across state line or illegally acquiring the gun in Wisconsin (there are conflicting reports on where the gun came from). A federal felony conviction will prevent him from ever possessing a fire arm, a fitting punishment. For good measure, they can haul in his mother for aiding and abetting.
2. O.J. Simpson model
O.J. was acquitted of the murder of his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. The families sued O.J. in civil courts where the standard of proof is less rigorous. The jury found him guilty and awarded a large settlement. The conviction deprived O.J. from cashing in on his notoriety.
Something similar can and must be done to Rittenhouse. Don’t let him cash in on his acquittal by grifting the right wing gravy train. Already, Matt Gaetz is talking about hiring him as an intern. It will be beyond revolting to see our tax dollars go to a murderer.
3. George Zimmerman fate
Zimmerman killed an unarmed black man, Treyvan Martin because he was walking through a “wrong” neighborhood. Zimmerman claimed self defense and was acquitted. But one unmistakable feature of sociopaths is that they learn wrong lessons from being given a second chance (Exhibit A: Trump, Donald John). They become even worse. Zimmerman has repeatedly gotten in trouble with the law, including being accused of assaults by his wife. His story hasn’t been fully written yet but is unlikely to end well.
Similar fate awaits Rittenhouse. Judging by his behavior after the shooting, he is unlikely to learn to be a better person. Which means he is going to get into some trouble with the law. And now he is an adult and will be tried as one.
None of this is going to bring the two victims back. That will remain a sad chapter in country’s history.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.