As Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty Friday on all charges against him, including intentional homicide, emotions rippled across the nation and the world.
The verdict unleashed debates across the country; some people were outraged over the lack of justice, citing the role of white privilege, while others praised the upholding of the Second Amendment.
Rittenhouse fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz in a summer 2020 protest following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Rittenhouse, 17 at the time, faced charges including intentional homicide to attempted homicide.
Anthony Huber’s parents, Karen Bloom and John Huber, said they were heartbroken and angry over the verdict, which they said did not deliver justice for any of Rittenhouse’s victims.
“…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. We hope that decent people will join us in forcefully rejecting that message and demanding more of our laws, our officials, and our justice system,” the statement read.
Justin Blake, Jacob Blake’s uncle, said the verdict was an example of the city’s inherit racism.
“This is a very racist city, it’s been shown through and through … the judge displayed that,” Blake told local reporters.
Not guilty verdict:Kyle Rittenhouse reacts as jury reads not guilty verdict
Politicians also shared their thoughts on the outcome via social media, with Democrats calling out a lacking justice system and “alarming” new precedent.
“A system that legitimizes vigilante murder is deeply broken,” said U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore of Milwaukee in a tweet.
Wisconsin Sen. Kelda Roys of Madison said in a tweet that the verdict was “devastating.”
“The fix seemed in from the beginning, given the judge’s blatant and inappropriate bias for the defense,” she said. “Even if (people) buy that throwing a plastic bag requires ‘self defense’ with an AR-15, Rittenhouse broke multiple other laws and should have served years in prison.”
The Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network said Friday was a “dark day” for the Black community and called the verdict “dangerous.”
“This verdict was not only outrageous and dangerous, it was also an obvious signal that encourages and notifies “vigilantes” that they can continue to use violence to assert their power, and more importantly that they are above the criminal justice system when they do. While it is disheartening that we take one step forward, then several steps back, let this be a reminder that our activism cannot take a backseat,” the statement read.
Republicans praised the courts for delivering, what they believed to be justice.
Former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker weighed in on Twitter, saying that those who knew what actually happened in Kenosha last year assumed this would be the outcome.
“Thankfully, the jury thought the same,” he said. “Pray that the kind of violence seen then does not happen again.”
Rebecca Kleefisch, a Republican candidate for governor of Wisconsin, shared a similar sentiment.
“Our justice system worked today,” she said in a tweet. “The prosecution in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial was a complete disgrace, praising the mob that burned our streets as ‘heroes.’”
Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson also said in a tweet that justice had been served.
“I hope everyone can accept the verdict, remain peaceful and let the community of Kenosha heal and rebuild,” he said.
Civil liberties and gun prevention organizations are also hitting back against the verdict. Shaadie Ali, interim executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin said the events in Kenosha stem from deep white supremacy roots.
“But Kyle Rittenhouse isn’t the only one responsible for the deaths that night. The events in Kenosha stem from the deep roots of white supremacy in our society’s institutions. They underscore that the police do not protect communities of color in the same way they do white people,” Ali’s statement read.
The gun violence prevention organization March For Our Lives questioned why Rittenhouse had an AR-15 rifle in the first place, and said firearms always yield violence.
“It it so very clear that Kyle Rittenhouse embodies the very danger posed by a toxic mix of a white supremacist culture that values property over human life, and wide proliferation of high-powered guns with fewer limits than a drivers license,” March For Our Lives said on Twitter.