The Rittenhouse case was lost during the prosecution. Under state law once a reasonable claim of self-defense was made—and the prosecution(!) videos and witnesses clearly made that case—the burden falls to the DA to prove that it was not self-defense. They came nowhere near that. The defense likely could have rested following the prosecution and offered no rebuttal whatsoever. To say that the district attorney did a terrible job is understating matters.

This should not have been a surprising verdict to anyone following the case. It is perhaps a failure of the media that anyone would have expected otherwise. Further, I don’t think that the jury got it wrong. Under the applicable laws as I understand them, not guilty was the correct verdict. (Remembering, of course that law and justice do not always agree with one another, and something being legal doesn’t mean such an action is just or moral.)

It is, I think, unassailable that the defendant had no business being on the streets that night. But it’s also true of virtually everyone else involved. Riots and violence are intrinsically chaotic and unlawful, and none of us should be particularly surprised when bad things follow. I’ve seen the situation called “horrifying,” “incomprehensible,” “sad,” “scary”— and I’d agree with all of these.

We’re either going to return to being a society that protects nonviolent protest as guaranteed to citizens by the First Amendment, or we’re going to continue to allow riots in the streets and suffer through additional cases like this one. (Portland had riots last night, of course.)