The acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse sparked scattered protests in major cities Friday night as demonstrators called the decision a miscarriage of justice symptomatic of larger failures in the justice system.
The jury acquitted Rittenhouse, 18, on all charges, after his legal team argued he acted in self-defense when he shot three men, two fatally, at a racial justice protest last year in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The case has magnified divisions in a polarized nation. The defendant could have done the case differently, protesters claim.
From the beginning, the trial was linked to questions of systemic racism in the justice system as activists compared police treatment of Rittenhouse to their treatment of Jacob Blake, a Black man paralyzed from the waist down after he was shot by a white Kenosha police officer, sparking the protests last year.
“You can really smell and see the underlying systemic racism that’s in the judicial system and the policing system,” said Justin Blake, Jacob Blake’s uncle, following the verdict.
Mark Richards, Rittenhouse’s lawyer said that Rittenhouse was legally innocent. Richards replied that Rittenhouse doesn’t feel he committed any moral wrongs when he was asked about his feelings.
Richards stated that Kyle said to him, “If it had to be done over, and I knew anything like this would occur, I wouldn’t do it,” Richards explained to CNN. “…There is no regret about what he did on that night in these circumstances. “Hindsight is always 20/20.”
Rittenhouse will give an exclusive interview to Tucker Carlson of Fox News that will air Monday evening, the network announced.
Verdict:Kyle Rittenhouse found not guilty in all cases of reckless endangerment and homicide.
Do you choose to use self-defense, or overreact?:It’s sometimes difficult to discern the difference between guns and racial divide in a country awash in them.
“Absolutely No Words”:Gabrielle Union, Megyn Kelley, and more celebrities react to Kyle Rittenhouse verdict
In cities all across the country, protesters gather
Protesters took to the streets in cities across the country to voice their opposition to the jury’s verdict.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers put 500 National Guard soldiers on standby in Kenosha just before the verdict was made public. According to the Washington Post, protests were peaceful. There weren’t major clashes in Kenosha on Friday or Saturday.
“This struggle, this struggle are far from over,” Rev. Monica Cummings, told the crowd at a Friday evening prayer vigil in Kenosha.
Holding a sign that read “Heal Kenosha”, she stated, “Love has called” her.
“Love called us back to the streets in August 2020. Love called us into action.
These were Kyle Rittenhouse’s shooting victims. Anthony Huber, Joseph Rosenbaum, Gaige Grosskreutz
Rittenhouse speaks:Fox News’ Tucker Carlson interviews Kyle Rittenhouse
In Portland, police declared a riot Friday night, saying a group of 10 to 20 people tried to breach the city’s Justice Center threatening to “burn it down.” A sergeant’s window in his car was broken by police, as well as the windows at a printing shop. As well as one arrest, five citations were issued and 17 warnings were given.
Hundreds of protesters also gathered at a number of demonstrations in New York City, including outside the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where signs with the words “No Justice in the Capitalist Courts” and “Only Revolution Can Bring Justice” waved above heads.
Dozens at two protests in downtown Chicago decried the verdict, and another protest is planned in the city for Saturday evening. CBS reported that more than 20 people demonstrated at a San Diego park. NBC Bay Area also reported that more than 100 protestors gathered downtown Oakland in California.
After Rittenhouse was acquitted, civil rights activists raised concerns about safety for protesters who were demonstrating against the verdict. This concern stemmed from right-wing groups. Rev. Jesse Jackson warned that it could be an “open season” on protestors for human rights violations and advised them to exercise caution.
Reactions to the verdict of Kyle Rittenhouse“Justice system broke” to “Justice system works.”
These were the shooting victims.Anthony Huber, Joseph Rosenbaum, Gaige Grosskreutz
React to the verdict by Vice President Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden told reporters Friday he stood by the verdict, saying “The jury system works.”
He urged Americans in a subsequent statement to express their opinions peacefully.
He said, “The verdict in Kenosha is going to make many Americans angry and worried, me included.”
During a Friday visit in Columbus, Ohio, Vice President Kamala Harris said she was disappointed in the acquittal in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.
“I’m disappointed in the verdict, I have to tell you,” Harris said. Harris said, “I believe it speaks for itself. However, I have also spent most of my career focusing on the things we can do to make the criminal justice system more just and fair. We still have much work to do.
Among countless more lawmakers, celebrities and high-profile figures responding to the verdict, U.S. Rep Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., called for a federal review of the case.
This heartbreaking verdict represents a serious miscarriage in justice. It sets dangerous precedents that warrant federal review by DOJ. Justice can’t tolerate that armed people cross state borders looking for trouble, while protestors engage in First Amendment protected demonstrations. Nadler posted on Twitter.
‘Untouchable super citizens’:Is the Rittenhouse verdict a step in the right direction or just another way to fuel vigilantism?
Opinion:Kyle Rittenhouse used the gun he was authorized to possess in order to defend himself
Contributing: Christal Haes, Ryan Miller, and Grace Hauck USA TODAY Annysa Johnson Mark Johnson Talis Shelbourne Milwaukee Journal Sentinel The Associated Press