Jury Nullification, the 2019 Edition

In an excellent, must-read piece by David Neiwert about a shooting during a confrontation between anti-fascists and Milo supporters (in the ancient days of 2017, when he was still famous), he describes something very disturbing from the trial of the Milo supporters, one of whom shot an anti-fascist (boldface mine):

Finally, on Tuesday, Aug. 13, five weeks after the trial began, a mistrial was declared when it became apparent that, despite the majority voting otherwise, three jurors would never be persuaded to find the Hokoanas guilty in the shooting of an antifascist. Nine of them voted to convict Elizabeth, and seven were convinced of Marc’s guilt, but the three holdouts—who apparently were all Trump-loving Republicans—could not be budged.

The jury was biased,” its foreman, a man named Luke, told The Seattle Times. He said that, during deliberations, he had requested a repeat viewing for the entire jury of an informational video about bringing bias into the jury chambers, but “it didn’t do any good” for a small handful of jurors who “sympathized and held similar views” to those of the Hokoanas

One of the jurors approached Raam Wong afterward in an effort to set the record straight. She told him that the jury’s deliberations were tainted from the outset by the three Trumpites, led by one particularly bellicose male: “I guess from the very first moment he just kind of sunk his heels in, and said there’s no way in hell I’m going to ruin this woman’s life because of some antifa ringleader who he thought he was human trash and probably deserved to be shot.

That’s it. If there is any single indelible impression that I have come away with from my experience through this trial—as well as my multiple experiences covering far-right street brawlers and their events, along with the opposition that comes out to meet them—it is how readily, almost automatically, the demonization and dehumanization of these leftist protesters rises to the surface as if utterly normalized.

To anyone familiar with Southern history, there’s a phrase for this: jury nullification. It’s being promulgated by Fox News (and Sinclair News) and rightwing sites, so it has a powerful business model backing it. Even if Democrats take back the Senate and the White House (and hold the House) and overcome their gormlessness and pass some meaningful legislation, we still will need massive de-Trumpification, if that’s even possible. Those three angry assholes aren’t going away–and juries aren’t the only place they’re found. It will be a very long road–as metaphor, think of forty years in the desert–before they recede.

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