Americans have taken to social media to point out the double standard at the heart of a jury’s decision to clear Kyle Rittenhouse of all charges.
Americans have taken to social media after a jury cleared Rittenhouse of charges he faced for killing two men and shooting a third at a Black Lives Matter protest last August.
Rittenhouse, a former police cadet and Trump supporter who was 17 at the time of the shooting, crossed state lines from Antioch, Illinois to Kenosha, Wisconsin on August 25, picked up an illegally-obtained AR15 rifle from a friend’s stepfather, and began to guard a car dealership from demonstrators out after the curfew imposed at the time.
When a confrontation broke out, the teen fired his gun at a group of people appearing to chase him — killing 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum. Shortly after, he shot and killed 26-year-old Anthony Huber, and injured Gaige Grosskreutz, who was also 26.
Hailed a hero at the time by some and defended by then-president Donald Trump, Rittenhouse was charged days later with, among other things, first-degree intentional homicide.
Throughout his two-week trial — which began earlier this month — Rittenhouse and his lawyers argued that he acted in self-defence and only pulled the trigger on those who provoked him during the protests.
And overnight, the almost “completely white jury” acquitted him on all counts.
Reacting to the news, a number of people pointed out that had Rittenhouse been a black teenager, he may not have been acquitted.
Many Americans took to social media to voice their frustrations, claiming there was a double standard at play.
“If Kyle Rittenhouse were black he would [have been] shot dead by cops on the scene,” United Nations representative Mohamad Safa tweeted.
“Police shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back and the Kenosha community protested in solidarity. Then Kyle Rittenhouse gunned them down and killed people — without consequence,” Texas congressman Joaquin Castro wrote.
“An unsurprising verdict due to systemic inequity in the justice system, but it’s still deeply shameful.”
“If you keep asking yourself how/why Kyle Rittenhouse could cause so much harm and serve no jail time while black people are in prison for voting or sending their kids to school out of district, remember: Laws are meant to protect white people and white power and punish black people,” tweeted Shaun King.
Others said the verdict showed how desperately the US needs to tighten its gun laws.
“Kyle Rittenhouse used an assault weapon to kill two people. This is not justice,” New York Governor Kathy Hochul wrote on Twitter.
“If there was any question about why we need strong gun safety laws, this is your answer. This should never have been allowed to happen in the first place.
“We have a lot of work to do.”
In a statement released by John Huber and Karen Bloom, the parents of one of Rittenhouse’s victims, they said: “Today’s verdict 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.”
For some though — including demonstrators who had appeared outside the Kenosha courthouse — justice had apparently been served.
One of those to congratulate Rittenhouse was the former president.
“Congratulations to Kyle Rittenhouse for being found INNOCENT of all charges,” Trump said in a statement via his Save America PAC.
“It’s called being found NOT GUILTY — And by the way, if that’s not self-defence, nothing is!”
“America is rejoicing for Kyle Rittenhouse today,” ACT for America founder and chairwoman Brigitte Gabriel wrote.
“Kyle Rittenhouse is a great role model for our young children. His mother should feel very proud.”
“Kyle Rittenhouse is not guilty, my friends! You have a right to defend yourself,” North Carolina Republican Madison Cawthorn wrote on an Instagram story.
“Be armed, be dangerous, and be moral… Kyle, if you want an internship, reach out to me.”
In the wake of the decision, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers deployed National Guard troops to Kenosha, with fears it could lead to further violence.
In a statement, US President Joe Biden appealed for calm following the verdict.
“While the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included, we must acknowledge that the jury has spoken,” he said.
“I urge everyone to express their views peacefully, consistent with the rule of law.”
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