Activists Are Furious Rittenhouse Was Found Not Guilty

“If you needed yet another example of the two justice systems at work in America, look no further.”
Kyle Rittenhouse speaks with his attorneys during his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse on November 18, 2021 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He was found not guilty.
Kyle Rittenhouse speaks with his attorneys during his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse on November 18, 2021 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He was found not guilty. (Sean Krajacic - Pool/ Getty Images)

Kyle Rittenhouse, the teen who killed two people during racial justice demonstrations in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the summer of 2020, was found not guilty of all charges, including homicide, on Friday—a verdict that quickly sparked outrage from some on the left and celebration from some on the right. 

“They found Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty on all charges,” Olayemi Olurin, a New York City public defender, said on Twitter Friday. “A reminder that a criminal system built on maintaining white supremacy and racial inequality will never deliver us ‘justice’ from those who share its ideals, or treat us all equally under the law.”

Some saw the outcome in Rittenhouse’s trial as being unfairly guided by a controversial judge, the teen defendant’s tearful claims of self-defense, and the color of his skin.

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Rittenhouse, viewed as a vigilante by activists during protests over the August 2020 police shooting of Jacob Blake, had claimed self-defense during proceedings and said he’d traveled from his home in nearby Illinois to help people and protect a car dealership. He was armed with an AR-15-style rifle bought for him by a friend. (“Well, on one hand, he wrapped up an ankle, and I think helped somebody who had a cut on his hand, yay,” Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger said during closing arguments Tuesday. “On the other hand, he killed two people, blew off Gaige Grosskreutz’s arm, and put two other lives in jeopardy.”)

“In the Rittenhouse case, the 13th juror was the judge,” MSNBC host JoyAnn Reid tweeted shortly after the verdict.

Twitter users also worried what the verdict in Rittenhouse’s would mean for future racial justice protesters who faced violence while demonstrating in the streets, and if it would essentially declare open season on activists. 

“American courts are in desperate need of overhaul. Justice is rarely found here,” civil rights attorney and candidate for Texas Attorney General Lee Merritt said on Twitter. “The Rittenhouse decision undermines basic protections afforded to all citizens and encourages vigilantism. The law has never loaned the protections of self-defense to instigators of violence. This verdict is reached in contradiction to the law.”

The attorney listed the names of Rittenhouse’s victims, as well as Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old Black jogger whose killers are now on trial in Glynn County, Georgia, as people who were entitled to claim self-defense instead of the Kenosha teen.

“If you needed yet another example of the two justice systems at work in America, look no further than the delayed arrest, spectacle of a trial, and lack of conviction of Kyle Rittenhouse,” civil rights attorney Ben Crump said in a press release Friday afternoon. “We’re talking about Kyle Rittenhouse, a racist, homicidal vigilante who, like so many white men before him, not only escaped accountability but laughed in its face.”

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Conservative voices were more pleased with the outcome—and took to social media to suggest he deserved justice in other ways, too. 

“I hope Rittenhouse sues the ever-loving hell out of every media freakshow that libeled, slandered, and defamed him,” said Dana Loesch, former spokesperson for the National Rifle Association and current radio host.

Black conservative author Candace Owens also chimed in on the verdict, joined in on praising the jury’s decision.

“Kyle Rittenhouse is free,” Owens tweeted. “The criminal mob corporate enterprise that is masquerading as a movement concerned about black lives—FAILS. Justice wins the day.”

The protests that brought Rittenhouse to Kenosha in the first place largely centered around police violence against Black people, and how such violence routinely goes unpunished. Hundreds of protesters—and counterprotesters—flooded the city’s streets after an officer shot Blake, a Black father, seven times.

“We had hopes because this was a jury of 12, but you have the guy who is presiding over the whole thing pressing his hands on the scale and allows this young man a pass,” Jacob Blake’s uncle told the media outside the courtroom. “His bail money was raised by the Proud Boys, the Ku Klux Klan, the Nazis, and the skinheads.”

That officer did not face charges for shooting Blake.