The trial this week of Kyle Rittenhouse, charged with homicide for the killing of two unarmed men during the unrest after police shot Jacob Blake in the back, is arguably one of the most polarizing the country has seen in recent times.
Many on the left see Rittenhouse as a killer, many on the right see him as a "patriot" who was engaged in self defense. Judge Bruce Schroeder will decide Rittenhouse's fate – and if he's a killer or a self-defending patriot.
Schroeder's behavior has been the subject of a good deal of outrage as he – on live TV – repeatedly berated the prosecutor Wednesday. Some legal experts indicate his anger at the state's attorney might be justified, but at the very least most seem to agree it should not have been done in public.
Wednesday afternoon many were stunned when Judge Schroeder's phone went off in the middle of the trial.
Schroeder quickly grabbed it and angrily turned the ringer off, but as several noted, his ringtone is the same song Donald Trump used as his theme song at his MAGA rallies, known to some as "Proud to be an American," officially "God Bless the U.S.A."
There's nothing wrong with the song itself, but given how Trump himself has repeatedly "endorsed" Rittenhouse, even traveling visiting Kenosha, the scene of the killings, some are expressing concern.
Civil rights attorney Timothy Welbeck, the Director of the Center for Anti-Racism Research, and an Assistant Professor of Instruction at Temple University, called it "outrageous."
"This is outrageous," he tweeted in response to a video of Judge Schroeder's phone ringing. "Aside from the obnoxious disruption it causes (I've seen judges threaten defendants and witnesses with jail time when their cell phones rang during court proceedings), it further reveals Judge Schroeder's potential for bias in this matter and related ones."
Last summer at a White House press briefing Trump told reporters his thoughts about Rittenhouse: “You saw the same tape as I saw, and he was trying to get away from them."
“I guess it looks like and he fell and then they very violently attacked him and it was something we're looking at right now and it's under investigation," Trump said, as CNBC reported August 31, 2020. “I guess he was in very big trouble. He probably would have been killed. But it's under investigation."
One day earlier The New York Times reported "the president even 'liked' a tweet that offered support for Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old Trump supporter who has been charged with homicide after two demonstrators were shot to death in Kenosha, Wis. 'Kyle Rittenhouse is a good example of why I decided to vote for Trump,' the tweet said."
Former Republican and former federal prosecutor Ron Filipkowski, now a Democrat, was among the first to identify the song: