After roughly 23 hours of deliberation, a jury on Friday found Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty on all counts – an outcome progressives viewed as emblematic of systemic racism.
America has been waiting with bated breath for the outcome of the case, which has become an encapsulation of culture war tensions surrounding race, the media and guns.
18-year-old Rittenhouse faced five charges – including two homicide counts and one attempted homicide count – related to his actions during a violent racial justice demonstration in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Aug. 25 of last year.
- As a precaution against civil unrest, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers deployed 500 National Guard troops to the Kenosha area Monday.
- Earlier this week, business owners in Kenosha expressed concerns about crime and vandalism in the wake of the verdict, fearing a repeat of last year’s violent protests over the death of Jacob Blake.
- “Protesting is OK, but rioting and creating mass destruction to your town or an outsider coming into your town, it does not prove a single thing. It doesn’t help,” Scott Carpenter, owner of B&L Office Furniture, told NBC News.
Passions raged on social media, with conservatives predicting riots. Meanwhile, liberals were broadly in agreement that the acquittal signified a victory for “white supremacy.”
MSNBC host Joy Reid:
We knew, but it’s sometimes helpful to remind ourselves how America was designed to work. It continues to work as designed. We have learned again what is considered legal for *some* people to do in America. It’s helpful to know where you stand in your country. Be safe out there.
— Joy-Ann (Pro-Democracy) Reid 😷 (@JoyAnnReid) November 19, 2021
Chicago mayoral candidate Amara Enyia:
— Amara Enyia (@AmaraEnyia) November 19, 2021
Community organizer Gregory Jackson:
The #RittenhouseVerdict is why street justice rages on…
— Gregory Jackson Jr. (@gregoryjackson) November 19, 2021
Feminist journalist Helena Wadia:
— Helena Wadia (@helenawadia) November 19, 2021
Rashad Robinson, president of the progressive non-profit Color of Change:
This verdict is heartbreaking but we must remember that even if Rittenhouse were found guilty, that still would not be justice. It would be accountability for one person.
Justice is when the rulebook that has codified white supremacy into every facet of our lives is rewritten.
— Rashad Robinson (@rashadrobinson) November 19, 2021
LGBT advocate Kurt Thigpen:
Utterly disgusted. There is no justice to be found here for the victims or their families.
— Kurt Thigpen (@KurtThigpen) November 19, 2021
Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis.:
A system that legitimizes vigilante murder is deeply broken.
— Rep. Gwen Moore (@RepGwenMoore) November 19, 2021
Progressive journalist Alex Berg:
The Kyle Rittenhouse verdict demonstrates that the justice system isn’t broken but working exactly as it was built: To bend to the needs of white people and white supremacy.
— Alex Berg (@itsalexberg) November 19, 2021
WHAT HAPPENS NOW
Judge Bruce Schroeder told members of the jury on Friday they were under no obligation to give interviews to the press.