Op-ed: Kyle Rittenhouse and I are not the same
Kyle Rittenhouse (photo by Adam Rogan/AP) and Marcus Davis (photo courtesy of Marcus Davis).

By Marcus Davis

(A comparison of the rights afforded to the recently acquitted 18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse in the deadly Kenosha, Wis. shootings, and himself and other African American men)

I’m not here to comment on Rittenhouse’s guilt or innocence. I’m not here to criticize the poor performance of the prosecution. I’m not here to critique the judge’s judiciousness. But I am compelled to share with you the difference that skin color can make in the criminal justice system. 

On Jan. 28, 2013, I was awakened by a barrage of calls and texts to my cell phone. When I finally answered, the voice on the other end said, “Marcus, what are you going to do?” 

After clearing my throat and allowing the intervention of the Holy Spirit to prevent the person repeatedly calling my phone at the crack of dawn from being “blessed” by my gift of “speaking in tongues,” I responded, “Do about what?” 

At that point, I discovered that my office building had been vandalized — again. As I hung up the phone, I thought about how I was going to handle the situation this time. 

I got up, went to my closet, went to my truck and drove to my office. When I arrived, the media was waiting, as well as a Homeland Security detective, as the vandalism was deemed politically and racially motivated. 

Upon completing my interview with the detective, I prepared to go outside and speak to the media. The decision I had made while lying in bed was to do my interview with my rifle on full display. My reason for this decision was because I believed the vandalism occurred as a result of proposed anti-gun legislation by the Democrats. As a courtesy, I shared with the detective what my intentions were and why. 

I walked out of my office with my AR 15 strapped to my back and proceeded toward the reporter for the interview. While waiting for the cameraman to set up, within two minutes of being outside, I heard engines roaring and sirens sounding. As I looked up, I saw police cars racing down Alabama. I thought to myself, “Wow, they’re really after someone at 7:30 a.m.” 

My naïveté had gotten the best of me for a brief moment. As the cars drew closer and I found myself surrounded by three or four cop cars, it dawned on me that I was that someone! The cars came to a screeching halt, car doors opened and cops got out — hands on holster. 

At that moment, the detective I had been speaking with stepped up with his badge in his hand. He asked the patrolman what was going on. The patrolman responded saying they’d gotten a report of someone carrying an assault rifle down the street. The detective stated that I had broken no laws, was legally carrying my weapon on my property. The patrolman questioned why I was doing what I was doing and debated whether I should be doing it. The detective again responded, “This man is within his rights. He is lawfully carrying his legal weapon on his own property.” 

The patrolmen got in their cars and left. To this day, I am extremely grateful that the detective, an African American male, was there and stepped in. 

I have no idea how that situation would have played out had he not been there and had he not stepped in. And that’s where Kyle Rittenhouse and I are different.

Rittenhouse was afforded his day in court. And while I say I don’t know what would have happened, I could very well had stirred my last grit. The day would have likely ended without the possibility of being judged by a jury of my peers because I had been judged and executed by a jury of police officers. I’m certain many have seen the viral videos depicting the disparaging treatment of whites carrying AR 15s and African Americans carrying the same rifle. 

In short, whites were approached and engaged in a delightful conversation about the Constitution while Blacks had orders to get on the ground with guns pointed at them. 

While I’m not here to pass judgment on Rittenhouse or his trial, I am compelled to share with you three things: 

1) The melanin in my skin would not have allowed me to walk through the chaotic streets of Kenosha with my AR 15 in my hand, shoot and kill people and make it all the way to my bed. My encounter on my property leads me to believe that I would have been detained, arrested, shot or killed. 

2) The melanin in my skin would not have allowed me to attend a Proud Boy rally with an AR, shoot and kill two of them, make it home to my bed and win a trial claiming self-defense. 

3) While I am a gun-toting Texan who believes the Constitution provides me with the right to bear arms, the melanin in my skin would not have allowed me to murder two people at a Proud Boys rally, claim self defense and have the support of the NRA, Second Amendment advocates and the gun rights community. 

Again, I’m not here to tell you whether Kyle Rittenhouse is guilty, but I am compelled to tell you what America is guilty of. 

Marcus Davis is chief steward of the Houston-based parent company of The Breakfast Klub and Reggae Hut Cafe, a radio host and motivational speaker.