The trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, an Illinois teenager facing homicide charges for the fatal shooting of two protesters last summer, begins Monday in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Rittenhouse, then 17, had traveled to Kenosha to join a group of people who said they were helping keep order in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was paralyzed after being shot in the back by police during an arrest. Rittenhouse, carrying a military-style semiautomatic rifle, had clashed with protesters, shooting and killing two men and wounding a third.
Rittenhouse's supporters say he was defending himself while taking a stand for law and order. Civil rights activists call him a violent, reckless intruder who targeted people participating in a meaningful protest. "It's a battle of the narratives," Steven Wright, a law professor at the University of Wisconsin, told The New York Times. "People will either see this as a young man who came across state lines with a weapon intending to do trouble, or people will come with the belief that he came here with a medical kit and attempted to defend the law and defend people."
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The judge made news in pretrial hearings last week when he said prosecutors couldn't call the people Rittenhouse shot "victims," but defense lawyers could call them "rioters." Jury selection begins Monday, with the trial expected to last between two to three weeks.
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