With the jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial set to begin deliberating next week, it’s important to look back at what happened to another man who was ruthlessly assaulted by a mob in the same city during that series of riots.
Robert Cobb, 71, was minding his own business when civil unrest enveloped the area near his home in Kenosha, Wisconsin, following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Kenosha News reported Cobb did what he could to save the 100-year-old Danish Brotherhood Lodge after it was sacked by rioters.
Aug. 24, the night before Rittenhouse had run-ins with Anthony Huber, Joseph Rosenbaum and Gaige Grosskreutz, Cobb had attempted to protect the historic building with a fire extinguisher.
At one point, he began spraying rioters in the face with the fire extinguisher, as he would later explain, so that they might take off their masks and be filmed. He hoped that might identify them. He was hit in the head with concrete, suffered a broken jaw and needed stitches on his head.
WARNING: the following video is graphic and contains language which might offend some viewers.
Looters assault an older business owner trying to defend his business in Kenosha, Wisconsin on August 24, 2020. pic.twitter.com/LdlLnOpvfJ
— After Action Report (@after_theaction) August 25, 2020
Cobb’s story is one that we saw play out throughout the summer of 2020 in cities from Dallas to Portland. Good samaritans who wanted to protect their community were overwhelmed by mobs and attacked.
Rittenhouse easily could have suffered the same fate — or much worse. He could have been killed during either of his two deadly interactions the following night. One could argue that rioters were incensed by the teen’s rifle, but seeing another person in possession of a rifle is not a justification to attack or kill them.
A rifle in a riot is also not the only deadly weapon.
In the teen’s first deadly encounter, he shot Rosenbaum, who he said was pursuing him, and who was not deterred by the presence of his gun.
R: He could have ran away instead of trying to take my gun from me, but..it didn't stop him.
B: Mr. Rittenhouse, You're telling us that you felt like you were about to die, right.
B: But when you point the gun…that's going to make them feel like they're about to die. pic.twitter.com/HgauT7fq4Q
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) November 10, 2021
Rosenbaum, in every video shown to the jury, possessed two hands and two feet. Both are potentially deadly weapons. Rittenhouse made a decision to fire as Rosenbaum closed in on him. The man died while apparently trying to take possession of the teen’s gun.
That brings us to the second deadly interaction, when the teen was surrounded by people, including Huber and Grosskreutz. Huber struck Rittenhouse in the head with a skateboard and Rittenhouse shot him once. Huber died from a chest wound.
Somehow not mentioned in this CNN story: Getty photos show that Huber was actually beating Rittenhouse with his skateboard pic.twitter.com/J83ZbKbKy1
— Leon Wolf (@LeonHWolf) August 28, 2020
A skateboard is a deadly weapon when in the wrong hands. Run a Google search on “deadly skateboard attack” and look at all the coverage of people who were beaten to death with what Rittenhouse prosecutor Thomas Binger would probably call a benign piece of plywood sports equipment with plastic wheels.
As Binger has made abundantly clear, guns can be deadly. Grosskreutz himself has admitted he was pointing a pistol at Rittenhouse when he was shot through the right bicep.
#KyleRittenhouse – Under cross-examination Gaige Grosskreutz agrees that Rittenhouse did not fire at him when he had his hands up and that when Grosskreutz pointed his own gun at Rittenhouse while advancing on Rittenhouse, is when Rittenhouse shot him. Watch: pic.twitter.com/HSSFoINLCE
— Cathy Russon (@cathyrusson) November 8, 2021
We’ll never know if Grosskreutz might have ended up firing. Rittenhouse didn’t wait to find out.
In just under three minutes, Rittenhouse went from walking toward a gas station to puttting out a fire to reporting he had just used deadly force to a line of police officers.
Rittenhouse, when looking at all the evidence presented, chose to live. He used his rifle when the mob came for him.
There are valid arguments that none of this would have happened if the teen had stayed home, or had refrained from carrying a firearm with him, but Cobb was only armed with a fire extinguisher. He was attacked without mercy.
Imagine what might have become of Rittenhouse if the mob had gotten its ugly hands on him after the first shot was fired. Imagine the beating — or worse — had he not kept his gun in his own hands.