Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges today (Nov. 19) after pleading self-defense in the killing of two men and the wounding of another in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The 18 year old who traveled from his Illinois home to protests 20 miles away in Wisconsin, openly carried an assault rifle to the protests.
The shootings have come to encapsulate the American debate on racial injustice, guns, and vigilantism, and fierce debate about how Rittenhouse’s treatment by police, the court, and the judge seemed by some to be positively influenced because he is white.
Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP called the verdict a “travesty” and said it didn’t deliver justice to protestors of police violence. Johnson said in a statement, “Rittenhouse’s decision to go to Kenosha and provoke protestors was unwarranted. Moreover, the outcome of this case sets a dangerous precedent. We have seen this same outcome time and time again; a justice system that presents different outcomes based on the race of the accused. This verdict is a reminder of the treacherous role that white supremacy and privilege play within our justice system. In the midst of this disappointing verdict, we must continue to work to ensure that those who seek to harm progress do not find refuge for their illicit acts in a system meant to protect victims.”
Many writers and commentators took to social media to say they weren’t surprised by the acquittal.
Howard University professor and Pulitzer Prize winner, Nikole Hannah-Jones expressed her disappointment.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Leonard Pitts, Jr., summed up the feelings and expectations of many.
Writer Elie Mystal says he thinks this verdict was the extension of “Stand Your Ground” laws, and will lead to increased vigilantism.
Commentator Reecie Colbert, tweeting from Black Women Views Media, shared her frustration about what precedent this acquittal seems to set.
Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler, wants the DoJ to review this case because he says it sets a dangerous precedent.