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Advocates fight for justice for Chrystal Kizer

Wisconsin’s self-defense law led to Kyle Rittenhouse’s acquittal on homicide charges, sparking protests across the state and the country. Now, advocates are calling for justice for


By Carol Ozemhoya | Across Black America

Wisconsin’s self-defense law led to Kyle Rittenhouse’s acquittal on homicide charges, sparking protests across the state and the country. Now, advocates are calling for justice for a child sex trafficking survivor in the state, holding that if Rittenhouse could successfully claim self-defense, then she can, too, reports NBC News.

A group of demonstrators gathered this month at Kenosha’s Civic Center Park to protest the Rittenhouse verdict and highlight the case of Chrystal Kizar, who is awaiting trial on charges of killing her alleged sex trafficker three years ago, when she was 17. The Black teen says she shot him in self defense.

Kizer is charged with five felonies, including first-degree intentional homicide, for killing Randall Volar III. Her attorneys say she lashed out after years of abuse, and Kizer has said she was underage when he sexually assaulted her.

“My heart and my concern is with Chrystal Kizer. She is not forgotten,” one protester, Lorna Revere, said Sunday, according the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “The anger that hits all people, Black people, White people, that are concerned about the racism that this country faces, is like — it just stabs you in the chest time and time and time again.”

A jury this month found Rittenhouse, 18, not guilty of all charges in the fatal shootings of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and the wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz, 27, during protests last summer in Kenosha over the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by a White police officer. Prosecutors said Rittenhouse was an aggressor, traveling from his Illinois home to Kenosha with an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle with plans to add to the chaos in the city. But Rittenhouse’s attorneys argued that he went to Kenosha to protect businesses amid the August 2020 protests and was defending himself from attackers. The jury accepted the self-defense claim. According to Wisconsin law, “a person is privileged to threaten or intentionally use force against another for the purpose of preventing or terminating what the person reasonably believes to be an unlawful interference with his or her person by such other person.”

Following the Rittenhouse verdict, demonstrators chanted Kizer’s name along with the names of the men Rittenhouse shot as they marched through the downtown area to protest the acquittal, according to the Journal Sentinel. Social media users have also called for justice for Kizer, comparing her case to Rittenhouse’s.

Kizer was held in jail until June 2020, when several groups raised $400,000 for her bail. Her attorneys are invoking a state law known as “affirmative defense,” which means Kizer’s act was a “direct result” of her having been a victim of sex trafficking. An appellate court ruled that Kizer may be able to use the defense, according to Kenosha News, and the state Supreme Court is now reviewing that decision. This particular self-defense argument has never been used before in a homicide case in Wisconsin.

Julius Kim, an attorney in Wisconsin and a former prosecutor, said the Rittenhouse case used a “more traditional self-defense claim” than Kizer’s because video showed him in “imminent danger.”

“The reason the state balked at this particular use of affirmative defense is, they’re saying they don’t think that affirmative defense should apply to first-degree intentional homicide cases because that sets off a dangerous precedent,” Kim said. “What they’re saying is if someone commits a first-degree intentional homicide but shows some evidence they committed as a direct result of trafficking, that essentially gives people a license to kill their traffickers.”

Kim added: “I understand why supporters of Chrystul Kizer feel like Chrystul Kizer should be allowed to avail herself to the affirmative defense that she wants to … A lot of people are watching this case because they want to see whether it’s going to have implications for other” affirmative defense cases.”