Democrats and critics on Friday denounced Kyle Rittenhouse’s acquittal, saying the verdict was an affirmation of systemic racism in the U.S. criminal justice system.
President Joe Biden, though, said he stood by the jury’s decision because “the jury system works.”
Rittenhouse, 18, was found not guilty on all five counts in the shooting of two men during racial justice protests in Kenosha, Wisc., last year. Defense lawyers argued he acted in self-defense when he shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and injured Gaige Grosskreutz.
“You know damn well that if Kyle Rittenhouse were Black he would have been found guilty in a heartbeat—or shot dead by cops on the scene,” former Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Rep. Julián Castro tweeted following the verdict.
“The presumption of innocence until proven guilty is what we should expect from our judicial system, but that standard is not always applied equally,” said Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, a Black Democratic candidate running for a Senate seat.
“We have seen so many black and brown youth killed, only to be put on trial posthumously, while the innocence of Kyle Rittenhouse was virtually demanded by the judge.”
The Nation editor Eli Mystal claimed the shooting will lead to more “white boys shooting more people at protests.”
“OF COURSE Rittenhouse’s acquittal will lead to more violent white boys shooting people at protests they don’t like. I mean, you think Rittenhouse even happens in a world where George Zimmerman is in jail? You think that’s air your breathing?” he tweeted.
Rachel Zegler, the lead actress in Steven Spielberg’s remake of “West Side Story,” said the verdict was the “epitome” of “white privilege.”
“Kyle Rittenhouse being acquitted on all charges after such heinous heinous crimes is the epitome of white privilege and exactly what is wrong with this godforsaken country.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called the verdict “disgusting.”
“We can’t let this go. We need stronger laws to stop violent extremism from within our own nation.”
“Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum are victims. They should be alive today. The only reason they’re not is because a violent, dangerous man chose to take a gun across state lines and start shooting people,” de Blasio added.
Huber’s family called the decision heartbreaking.
“There was no justice today for Anthony, or for Mr. Rittenhouse’s other victims, Joseph Rosenbaum and Gaige Grosskreutz,” said Karen Bloom and John Huber, per CNN.
“Today’s verdict means there is no accountability for the person who murdered our son. It sends the unacceptable message that armed civilians can show up in any town, incite violence, and then use the danger they have created to justify shooting people in the street.”
“No reasonable person viewing all of the evidence could conclude that Mr. Rittenhouse acted in self-defense … Mr. Rittenhouse came to Kenosha armed to kill. Kenosha police encouraged him to act violently, and our son is dead as a result.”
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