It is not unusual for judges to set rules on what language can be used to refer to alleged victims and perpetrators in a trial, but there is a takeaway for us all—words matter.
In a report by The Chicago Tribune on Monday, Wisconsin Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder, who will be presiding over the trial set to start Monday Nov. 1, ruled that prosecutors in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial may not use the term “victim” to describe the men he shot as it would be prejudicial.
“The word victim is a loaded, loaded word,” said Schroeder.
The judge also directed the defense team that they may refer to the individuals Rittenhouse shot during the riots in Wisconsin as “rioters,” “looters” or “arsonists” only if there is evidence they partook in those actions.
Rittenhouse, an Illinois teenager, is charged with homicide stemming from an August 25, 2020 incident that occurred on the third night of rioting in Kenosha, Wisconsin over police brutality.
The riots broke out two days after a white police officer in Kenosha shot Jacob Blake, a black man, in the back while responding to a domestic disturbance.
Rittenhouse, an Illinois resident, was acting as a volunteer security guard during the unrest in Kenosha.
In a confrontation with “protestors,” Rittenhouse shot and killed two people, Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and wounded a third, Gaige Grosskreutz, in what his legal teams says was self-defense.
In the last proceeding to set the ground rules for the upcoming trial, prosecutors and defense lawyers also hashed out whether certain witnesses or evidence could be used in the trial. Schroeder also rejected the prosecution’s request to block any evidence that local law enforcement provided water to “vigilantes” the night of the shooting and thanked them for their presence.
In an August announcement, Court TV said they will be airing the trial in its entirety.
Expect there to be international attention on the trial and for the spin masters at CNN and MSNBC to be hard at work twisting the language for a world audience. In fact, I fully expect for Rittenhouse to be called, “The white supremacist who murdered two men during a peaceful protest” and if the jury should return a not-guilty verdict, it will is a result of his “white privilege.” God help the citizens of Kenosha.