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Two Other Cases Were Decided on the Same Day as the Rittenhouse Trial. Here's Why You Never Heard About Them.

Screenshot via ABC 25 WPBF News

Countless people – including many with large platforms and followings – have come unglued over the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse last week. Social media is often a poisonous cauldron of deranged hot takes, but the "analyses" we've all seen in recent days have been scalding-to-thermonuclear. Some of the comments are rooted in abject ignorance, via people whose preening fulminations are totally detached from the facts of the case. 

To these people, reinforced far too often by the "news" media and a virtue-signaling bandwagon effect, the Rittenhouse trial was simply the latest American morality play. Larger Truths were at stake. Under such circumstances, evidence, facts, and the law are treated as secondary or even tertiary considerations. Other unhinged reactions come from people who actually do know better, but whose tribalism and agendas compel them to intentionally distort reality. These groups, the ignorant and the malignant, have joined together to create a cacophony of bilious misinformation.

I laid out my overall thoughts on the Rittenhouse case in this thread a few weeks back. I explained at the time why I thought Rittenhouse was not guilty of murder, a view ultimately affirmed by 12 jurors. Bereft of any strong counter-arguments, many on the left have turned to provably false claims to justify their performative fury. Others erect supposedly damning hypotheticals, such as the widely-repeated claim that if Rittenhouse had been black, everything would have been different. As it happens, everyone involved in this particular deadly confrontation was white, but that hasn't stopped people from aggressively and explicitly racializing the incident. Race is their hammer and everything is a nail. We have no way of knowing how that tragic night would have played out under other circumstances – for instance, if the state of Wisconsin had decided to uphold order in the face of violent rioting, or if Rittenhouse had been a person of color. Confident declarations based on that latter counterfactual are everywhere, and the smart set nods along gravely. Of course, it's true. It must be. This is America. Look, maybe things would have been drastically different. The scourge of racism has not been extinguished from our society. Our system is hardly flawless. But simply asserting that our system is fundamentally racist, especially based on this case, is lazy and demagogic.

Counter-examples that cut against these narratives do not exonerate every element of our system, or "prove" that any allegations of unjust treatment or racial inequality cannot be true. But they do undermine the proposition that our nation and our criminal justice apparatus are irreparably and systemically broken or discriminatory. And they call into question forceful proclamations that Rittenhouse's acquittal is a product of white privilege and that no person of color could have received justice the way this white teenager did. On this score, I present two criminal cases that concluded last Friday, the same day Rittenhouse was found not guilty. Leftists who were raging about systemic racism and the broken system must have been too busy with their fact-challenged expressions of catharsis to have heard about, say, this story out of Florida: 

Andrew Coffee was found not guilty on all counts of murder and attempted first degree murder Friday. Coffee is accused of firing at Indian River County Sheriff's Deputies during an early morning drug raid at his home...His girlfriend, Alteria Woods was caught in the crossfire, shot 10 times and later died. Coffee was charged with the murder of Woods after a grand jury exonerated two law enforcement officers for her death. Before the case went to the jury's hand, Coffee took the stand to defend himself — blaming deputies for his girlfriend's death. The defense said Coffee was asleep and thought the flash-bang was gunfire so he fired his gun because he thought the [sic] was under attack. “I was trying to protect me and Alteria and I thought I was doing that, but I feel I didn't protect her. I can't sleep with that ... they killed her,” Coffee said...Coffee was found guilty on a count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, which could have a penalty of up to 30 years in prison. He was also found not guilty in the murder of Woods.

This black defendant asserted self-defense, made his case, and was acquitted on murder and attempted murder charges (but was convicted on what appears to be an open-and-shut gun possession charge). Meanwhile, there was this development in Missouri: 

A Missouri police detective was found guilty on Friday in the death of a Black man who was fatally shot in 2019 as he sat in a pickup truck outside his home, a remarkable decision given the rarity of convictions in on-duty killings by police officers. Judge J. Dale Youngs ruled that the detective, Eric J. DeValkenaere of the Kansas City Police Department, had no reason to go on the property of Cameron Lamb, 26, who was shot twice as he was backing into his garage on Dec. 3, 2019. Detective DeValkenaere, 43, and another detective had driven to Mr. Lamb’s house after receiving a report about a traffic incident involving the truck that Mr. Lamb was driving. But they had no warrant and did not have reason to believe a crime had been committed when they rushed into Mr. Lamb’s backyard and confronted him, argued Jackson County prosecutors, who also suggested during the trial that the police had planted evidence at the scene to make it look as if Mr. Lamb had a gun...The conviction came on the same day that Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of homicide and other charges by a jury in Kenosha, Wis.

Be honest: Had you heard of either of these cases? The judgments were handed down on the very same day Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty, triggering a tsunami of hysterical pronouncements about race and American justice. But remarkably scant attention was paid to a black defendant who successfully argued self-defense in a deadly shootout with police, or a white cop convicted for unjustly killing a black victim. Granted, I do not pretend to be anything close to an expert on these other cases. Like many of you, I'd wager, I hadn't even heard about them until they were resolved. Also, to reiterate, various instances of justice being achieved do not disprove the existence of potential injustices elsewhere – but the opposite is also true. Focusing only on perceived injustices (I don't believe the Rittenhouse outcome constitutes injustice at all, quite the contrary) as an indictment of the entire system, or even the country writ large, is a dangerous fallacy. And if the system is as broken and racist as the shouting demagogues insist, what do they have to say about the two trial results mentioned above? Anything? After all, it's their whole point that everything is about race.

Rittenhouse is a white person who shot other white people who were attacking him. The other aforementioned cases involved black people (a defendant and a victim), and look how those cases turned out. One day, three verdicts. You probably only heard about one of them because the other two didn't fit into a story certain people loudly insist illustrates our collective, indelible sins. Some conservatives undoubtedly have blind spots on criminal justice and enduring racial bigotry in America. But many progressives view the country as rotten to its core, and want to remake it in their image – and they're willing to distort any event, while ignoring others, to fortify and "vindicate" their dark, blinkered view of this nation. 



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