Several dozen people gathered under the wind-whipped Wisconsin flag at Kenosha Civic Center on Sunday and warmed up with chants for justice before taking to the streets to protest Kyle Rittenhouse’s acquittal.
Protesters retraced the route Rittenhouse took the night in August last year when he shot dead two people and injured a third during protests against police brutality. They carried signs that read “Reject Racist and Vigilant Terror” and “THE ENTIRE SYSTEM IS GUILTY!” A few demonstrators carried long guns.
Protesters regularly chanted “No justice, no peace” and “Anthony and Jo Jo”, the latter referring to Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum, both shot dead by Rittenhouse.
Reverend Jesse Jackson, 80, who took part in the first leg of a protest march in Chicago on Saturday, was scheduled to appear in Kenosha, but did not come. Organizers said he was instead working with congressional leaders to ask the Justice Department to investigate the case for prosecution. A statement from Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition earlier Sunday said the Justice Department should also consider complicity charges against Rittenhouse’s mother.
“The not guilty verdict is very revealing of the state of criminal justice in America,” Bishop Grant, national field director of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, said in a statement.
Although Grant’s statement indicates that Rittenhouse violated federal laws, he did not explain further and experts say Rittenhouse is unlikely to face federal charges, as federal law only applies in certain cases. very limited cases of homicide.
Rittenhouse, a then 17-year-old former police cadet from Antioch, Ill., Said he traveled to Kenosha with an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle to protect property rioters, but that he had been attacked and feared for his life.
The shots took place during a tumultuous night of protests against the shooting of a black man, Jacob Blake, by a white policeman in Kenosha.
Rittenhouse is white, just like those he shot dead, and his acquittal has led to new debates about racial justice, self-defense and policing in America.
Derrick Johnson, chief executive officer of the NAACP, said on Sunday that the verdict was difficult for African Americans to reconcile.
“Here you have a 17-year-old who illegally bought a gun, crossed state lines to protect property that wasn’t his, for owners who didn’t invite him, and he’s put himself in danger based on the rhetoric he’s seen on social media platforms, “Johnson told CBS’s” Face the Nation. “He called it a” warning shot that self-defense justice is authorized in this country or in particular communities ”.
Rittenhouse lawyers described him as a scared teenager who shot to save his life.
“I had no intention of killing them,” Rittenhouse said. “I intended to stop the people attacking me.”