Joseph Rosenbaum — depressed, homeless and alone — didn’t belong to either side. He had spent most of his adult life in prison for sexual conduct with children when he was 18 and struggled with bipolar disorder. That day, Aug. 25, Rosenbaum was discharged from a Milwaukee hospital following his second suicide attempt in as many months and dumped on the streets of Kenosha.
His confrontation hours later with Kyle Rittenhouse, a heavily armed teenager who had answered the call for “patriots,” kicked off a chain of violence — the deadliest of the summer — that left Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, dead. A third victim, Gaige Grosskreutz, 26, lost a chunk of his right biceps but survived.
Within hours, the three men and the teenager who shot them were assigned roles in the country’s churning partisan drama. On the right, Rosenbaum, Huber and Grosskreutz were cast as antifa foot soldiers, bankrolled by shadowy forces and determined to set fires and spread anarchy. On the left, the three shooting victims, all of them White, were celebrated as anti-racist martyrs battling armed vigilantes who had coalesced to support police departments accused of racism and brutality.