0158 GMT August 15, 2022
Rittenhouse, the two men he killed and the man he wounded were all white, but the case has been linked from the start to issues of race and the criminal justice system, AP reported.
Activists have previously pointed to differences in how police handled Rittenhouse’s case and that of Jacob Blake, the Black man who was shot by a white Kenosha police officer in August 2020, sparking protests in the city that became destructive and violent.
Video footage played during the trial showed Rittenhouse running toward police still wearing his rifle, and continuing past the police line at officers’ direction. He turned himself in to police in Antioch, Illinois, early the following day.
And though Kenosha prosecutors filed serious charges that had the potential to put Rittenhouse in prison for life, the criminal trial also struck many activists as unusually deferential to the defendant.
“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.
Black activists in Kenosha said the verdict showed they need to continue pushing for change in their city and state — in local elections, in education and in changes to policing.
“You cannot tell me that these institutions are not sick,” said Kyle Johnson, an organizer with Black Leaders Organizing Communities. “You cannot tell me that these institutions are not tainted with racism.”
A jury acquitted Kyle on Friday of murder in the fatal shooting of two men during racial justice protests.
The jury found Rittenhouse, 18, not guilty on all charges: two counts of homicide, one count of attempted homicide for wounding a third man, and two counts of recklessly endangering safety in protests marred by arson, rioting and looting on Aug. 25, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin, AFP reported.
Rittenhouse broke down sobbing after the verdict and collapsed to the floor before being helped back into his chair.
Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and fired a bullet that tore a chunk off the arm of Gaige Grosskreutz, 28. Rittenhouse claimed self-defense.
President Joe Biden, who during last year's election campaign tweeted a video that appeared to link Rittenhouse to white supremacists, said on Friday he supported the jury's decision.