I wrote earlier that I live in two different worlds. Last week, we received the verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse case, where he was found “Not Guilty” in the deaths of two men, and the wounding of another because it was ruled that he was acting in self-defense. The responses on social media were polarized opposites. Some were celebrating the verdict, some hailed him as a hero, and some saw it as a complete disgrace, and a sign of a corrupt justice system.
I was disappointed because it just didn’t seem right that there would be no consequence for the seventeen year old, walking around armed with a semi-automatic weapon in an environment filled with hostility, as this was a protest of police brutality in the shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man who was shot in the back by a police officer. There were peaceful protesters and there was also destruction of property. What could possibly go wrong, did go wrong. Mr. Rittenhouse, alone, shot and killed two people and injured one, although there were other armed individuals claiming to be there, like Mr. Rittenhouse, to protect property. Was the verdict the right verdict?
Perhaps, it was technically, but had he not placed himself in a volatile situation, particularly for his age, this probably would not have happened. That’s why I am disappointed. But the responses to this verdict, just in my small world seem to either be appalled at the verdict, or saw it as a completely righteous verdict, claiming the right to self-defense.
The right to self-defense side were mostly from my white evangelicals sisters and brothers, while those who saw it as appalling, were my black Christian friends, and my friends that may be described as white liberals. However, the responses were many from both.
What surprised me however, is that this week, the day before Thanksgiving, the verdict in the killing of the young, unarmed, black man, Ahmaud Arbery came in finding all three white men guilty, and there was complete silence on my social media from white evangelicals friends. Fox News barely covered it, if at all. There were responses of relief, and agreement with the verdict from black Christians.
The silence from the conservative right or white evangelicals was deafening. Did they not agree that the justice system worked this time?
Because I am a Christian, I believe that we ought to value life. The Bible says that life is in the blood.
Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.Genesis 9:6
If anyone kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death on the evidence of witnesses.Numbers 35:30a
You shall not pollute the land in which you live, for blood pollutes the land, and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed in it, except by the blood of the one who shed it.Numbers 35:33
So, because God values life, so do I, and in both of these cases, it is my value of life that informs how I view these verdicts.