Rittenhouse judge quotes Lincoln about the dangers of mob rule

After all the evidence was entered in the Kyle Rittenhouse case and all the law debated, it seemed clear, looking beyond the preconceived notions that the media had created, that Kyle ought never to have been charged and that he should now be acquitted.  It should have taken the jurors around two hours to reach this verdict.  As I write this, though, two days have passed, and there's still nothing.  Judge Schroeder seems to understand what's holding the jury back, for he quoted Abraham Lincoln regarding the absolute necessity of standing up to the mob on matters of principle.

The mob has been gathering outside the courthouse, with people there who support Rittenhouse and those who want to see him in jail:

There have been scuffles between the two groups:

Everybody is reasonably certain how things will play out.  If Rittenhouse is found guilty, the protesters will disperse.  If he's acquitted, the BLM crowd will try to trash Kenosha (again), while other BLM and Antifa groups will go on a tear in other American cities.  As a reminder, Kyle is White, as are (and were) the three men he shot.  There is also no evidence that Kyle has a racist bone in his body.

Unlike last August, the Wisconsin governor called out the National Guard this time around, but the current tactic across America is to let the protesters beat up on law enforcement officials.  As someone reminded me, this is a far cry from Mayor Richard J. Daley's approach in 1968, after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.  Then, Daley announced a "shoot to kill" order to quell urban protests, especially anyone engaging in arson:

Had these rules been in place in 2020, America would have ended the year with much less property damage and, probably, fewer dead people than the two dozen dead that BLM and Antifa left in their wake.  It's not just America, of course.  In Poland, as Muslim hordes encouraged by Belarus attacked the Polish border, the police didn't shoot the invaders.  Instead, they confined themselves to tear gas and water cannons.

Given the violence already taking place and the threat of more violence to an already broken Kenosha, it's reasonable to believe that the jury is struggling between principle (acquit Kyle) and fear (find him guilty and let the appellate court figure it out).  After all, we already have reason to believe that two of the jurors are worried about direct mob attacks against them.

That the jurors are afraid seems to have been borne out by Judge Schroeder's decision late Wednesday afternoon to read to them from Abraham Lincoln's 1836 Lyceum address.  According to William Herndon, Lincoln's law partner at the time, Lincoln made this public statement after a St. Louis mob burned a Black man.  This is the portion of the speech that Judge Schroeder quoted (italics in original, bolded emphasis mine):

I hope I am over wary; but if I am not, there is, even now, something of ill-omen, amongst us. I mean the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country; the growing disposition to substitute the wild and furious passions, in lieu of the sober judgment of Courts; and the worse than savage mobs, for the executive ministers of justice. This disposition is awfully fearful in any community; and that it now exists in ours, though grating to our feelings to admit, it would be a violation of truth, and an insult to our intelligence, to deny. Accounts of outrages committed by mobs, form the every-day news of the times.


While, on the other hand, good men, men who love tranquility, who desire to abide by the laws, and enjoy their benefits, who would gladly spill their blood in the defense of their country; seeing their property destroyed; their families insulted, and their lives endangered; their persons injured; and seeing nothing in prospect that forebodes a change for the better; become tired of, and disgusted with, a Government that offers them no protection; and are not much averse to a change in which they imagine they have nothing to lose. Thus, then, by the operation of this mobocractic spirit, which all must admit, is now abroad in the land, the strongest bulwark of any Government, and particularly of those constituted like ours, may effectually be broken down and destroyed—I mean the attachment of the People. Whenever this effect shall be produced among us; whenever the vicious portion of population shall be permitted to gather in bands of hundreds and thousands, and burn churches, ravage and rob provision-stores, throw printing presses into rivers, shoot editors, and hang and burn obnoxious persons at pleasure, and with impunity; depend on it, this Government cannot last.

Let us hope Lincoln's words stiffened the jurors' spines.  I must admit that I don't envy them their task, and I'd be lying if I stated that, were I in their shoes, I would naturally do the right thing.  As I've mentioned, we do not live in a brave era, and the general passive spirit that characterizes Americans today is an incentive to the mob.

Image: Protesters at Kenosha courthouse.  Twitter screen grab.

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