Judge Bruce Schroeder’s “performance” in the Rittenhouse trial has garnered as much media attention as the trial itself. During the trial, the judge displayed histrionic outbursts when it seemed his ego was triggered by the prosecutors line of questioning. Additionally, he asked the court to applaud for any veteran present in the courtroom with knowledge that person who was a witness for the defense was about to testify. He ruled against the prosecution’s request to include video evidence of Rittenhouse’s connection to the white supremacy group the Proud Boys which shows him posing for photos with the president of the racist group at a bar in Miami earlier in the months before his trial. In Sept. of 2021, The Chicago Tribune reported Judge Schroeder also “barred prosecutors from playing one video in which Rittenhouse punched a girl and another in which the Antioch teen said he wished he had his assault rifle with him so he could shoot at people he believed were shoplifting from a drugstore.”
The judge ruled to keep out any evidence that raised questions about Rittenhouse’s character. Journalists and legal experts have weighed in on the judge’s behavior during the trial and agree that his impulsive riffing off topic could have influenced or confused the jurors in how to view the facts of the case. While the jury was deliberating, Judge Schroeder broke into song, singing the Frank Sinatra song ” Autumn Leaves”. His cell phone also went off several times in the courtroom playing a song used at every Trump rally, “God Bless The USA.” In an unusual move to complete jury selection, the judge let Rittenhouse pick half of the jury names out of a tumbler. Schroeder has received widespread criticism on social media for his courtroom antics and it is the consensus by many that he appeared to rule in favor of the defendant.
It was reported by Fox News immediately after the verdict that Tucker Carlson would be conducting an interview with Rittenhouse about the trial and verdict. As with most Fox interviewers and their right-wing guests on guns and racial issues, it was predicted Rittenhouse would proclaim that he is “not a racist” and supports the Black Lives Matter Movement. Time will tell if Rittenhouse will prove to be another 0.J. Simpson, by getting away with murder in trial “1”, then ending up in jail because he is a criminal by nature and was will be a repeat offender and get convicted the next time. Is it coincidental that white supremacy groups and Fox News are interested in Rittenhouse or is it possible Kyle has shown an interest in them?
The verdict may have implications for future peaceful demonstrations and public gatherings in states where open carry gun laws exist. Despite Rittenhouse’s victims not being armed with guns, a jury found shooting people with an AR15 in a public place is justified if you feel scared or if you convincingly portray the behavior of others as deadly in your opinion. Will Black Lives Matter demonstrators, especially African Americans, now have to carry AR15’s at demonstrations because white, right-wing leaning people proclaim feeling scared and start shooting at them? Should Jews start taking AR15’s to white supremacy rallies to counter the anti-Semitic violent messages spread about them? If they become afraid they will be burned alive by neo-Nazi’s running around with tiki torches, will juries and judges view shooting them as self-defense?
Time will tell who Kyle Rittenhouse is as a person and if taking an assault weapon to a BLM demonstration was about protecting people and property or about vigilantism, racism, or hunger to shoot assault weapons. In the meantime, while women’s rights are being weakened, dangerous gun laws are being defended.