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What’s the truth about Kyle Rittenhouse?

The case has exposed a deep madness in American society

Kyle Rittenhouse (Getty)

On the night of 25 August 2020, Richie McGinniss, a somewhat gonzo video journalist, interviewed Kyle Rittenhouse for the right-wing Daily Caller website. Rittenhouse wore his cap backwards, had rubbery purple medical gloves on and an assault rifle dangling between his legs. He had decided for some reason that he, a 17-year-old boy, had to help the forces of law and order during the Black Lives Matter riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

‘People are getting injured,’ he said. ‘If there’s somebody hurt, I’m running into harm’s way. That’s why I have my rifle because I need to protect myself, obviously. I also have my med kit.’

Around two hours later, the reporter McGinniss was on his knees, topless, frantically wrapping his t-shirt around the skull of a man whom Rittenhouse had shot in the head. Rittenhouse ran away down a street. Another man whacked him in the neck with a skateboard. Rittenhouse shot him dead. Another pointed a handgun at him. Rittenhouse shot him in the arm.

The whole story speaks to the madness that gripped America in the weeks following the murder of George Floyd

Rittenhouse’s trial, which just ended, has become a source of international fascination. Did he act in self-defence, given all his victims attacked him first? Or did his recklessness provoke the initial violence? We’ll know the jury’s verdict soon enough.

The most intriguing questions are psychological, however: how did a white teenager convince himself that he needed to become an armed emergency first-responder at a race riot? How did this nerdy mummy’s boy go from scrubbing graffiti off a school building to shooting a man in the head in a car park hours later?

The whole story speaks to the madness that gripped America in the weeks following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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