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Rittenhouse’s verdict is barely resolved in the U.S. debate on race and justice

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Since the jurors accepted Kyle Rittenhouse’s self-defense arguments and acquitted the teenager in two murders during the civil strife last year, the streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin, have been quiet.

But throughout the United States, after a two-week trial led to serious differences in public opinion, the verdict triggered anger from the political left and cheers from the right.

The court proceedings are proceeding at the same time as the same explosive trial in Georgia. The trial involved the shooting of a black man, Ahmad Arbery, who was shot and killed while jogging, and revealed a case that lasted more than a year. After the death of the separatist George Freud who was still working to resolve racial and criminal justice issues.

For the organizers of the Reimagine Kenosha event, they set up a tent on the grass a few blocks from the court, and their goal is to “find a cure.”

“We know that our institution is still sick… We are at a liquidation point, so we need to reimagine,” organizer Kyle Johnson said after Friday’s verdict.

Kenosha resident Jasmine Alvarez described her reaction to Rittenhouse’s acquittal on all five counts as “disappointed, not surprised. And provoked.”

“He needs to understand the consequences of his actions, and this does not
It happened,” she said when referring to Rittenhouse, who was described by the prosecutor during the trial as an armed “chaotic tourist” who went to Kenosha to “look for trouble.” Self-defense was taken in protest against police brutality in the city in the summer.

Rittenhouse (center) said that during the protests and riots after the police shot and killed Jacob Black, he took a rifle to Kenosha to protect himself © POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Another Kenosha resident, Kendall Needham, insisted that the outcome of the August 2020 shooting would be different for blacks. Rittenhouse is white.

“There are so many people [in Kenosha] Make time for very minor, harmless crimes, but a kid from a different city incites
The violence actually took the lives of two people and then walked away
No trace. “

After a policeman shot and killed Jacob Blake, a black man, Rittenhouse drove from neighboring Illinois to Kenosha, a city on Lake Michigan. Rasten Siski, the police officer who shot Black, has not been charged with a crime.

Rittenhouse testified during the trial that he was there to protect property and provide first aid, and said he was carrying an assault rifle to protect himself. In a confrontation with the crowd, he shot three people, killed two people, and wounded a third.

After Friday’s verdict, Rittenhouse supporters drove past the courthouse and honked their horns to celebrate.

Republican lawmakers and conservative commentators welcomed Rittenhouse’s acquittal, saying that the verdict proved American’s Second Amendment right to allow people to “hold and carry weapons.” The judge in the Rittenhouse case dismissed a firearm charge shortly before the end of the trial.

Former US President Donald Trump said in a statement: “Congratulations to Kyle Rittenhouse for being found not guilty in all charges.” “By the way, if this is not self-defense, it is nothing! “

Protesters outside the Kenosha County Courthouse on Friday night after Rittenhouse was acquitted of murder © Claire Bushey/FT

Matt Gaetz, a Republican congressman from Florida and an ally of Trump, said he wanted to provide the teenager with an internship opportunity. Republican Congressman Paul Gosar from Arizona was caught last week for posting a video on social media describing his killing of Congressman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Condemned by the House of Representatives, he said he would “fight with Gates” to hire Rittenhouse. The polarizing Fox News host Tucker Carlson is making a documentary about the teenager.

At the same time, the Democrats made a desperate voice.

President Joe Biden said: “Although the Kenosha verdict will make many Americans, including me, angry and worried, we must admit that the jury has spoken.” Rittenhouse was portrayed as a white supremacist in Biden’s campaign video last year.

Former prosecutor and vice president Kamala Harris told reporters that “clearly there is still a lot of work to be done” to make the US judicial system fairer.

Lilly Goren, a professor of political science at Carroll University in Wisconsin, said that, like the trial of the murderer of Arbery, “the undercurrent of racism is very obvious” in the Rittenhouse case. .

She noticed that the defense attorneys in the Georgia case-in which three white men were involved in the fatal shooting of a black man-complained about the black priest sitting in court. Last week, the civil rights leader Pastor Al Sharpton organized a rally of black pastors outside the court in response.

Goren pointed out that Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old black boy playing with a toy gun in a park in Ohio, shot and killed two police officers. They have never been charged. This is another case that has attracted national attention.

Rittenhouse’s verdict means that in future political protests,
Especially for the “Black’s Fate is Fate” movement, “there may be more
This is essentially the vigilance of whites,” Goren said.

Before Rittenhouse’s verdict, tensions in Kenosha escalated as groups of duel demonstrators gathered. Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers authorized 500 National Guard soldiers to stand by, but the protests in the city and other parts of the United States throughout the weekend were mostly peaceful.

George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis last year caused widespread riots, and it is widely believed that this sparked discussions about the lingering racism in the United States. Attention has turned to the court in Brunswick, Georgia, and the white defendant in the Abery case also claimed to have defended himself.

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