(Washington, D.C.) – Following a tense trial, a Wisconsin jury found Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty of all charges on Friday. Rittenhouse, now 18, killed two men and wounded a third during a night of racial justice demonstrations in the summer of 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin, following the shooting of Jacob Blake. Blake, a 29-year-old Black man and father of six, was shot in the back seven times by a police officer, leaving Blake severely paralyzed. Earlier in the Rittenhouse trial, the judge dismissed a count of possession of a dangerous weapon.
“This verdict is part of a long history in which our legal system has failed to hold perpetrators of violence against those who speak up in the name of racial justice accountable. Kyle Rittenhouse was part of a self-appointed white militia whose only purpose was to threaten and intimidate protesters outraged by the unjustified shooting and maiming of a Black man. As the trial and Rittenhouse’s statements and actions made clear, he put himself and everyone around him in danger through his reckless, irresponsible, and illegal wielding of a high-powered assault weapon that never belonged on the streets in the first place. He intentionally shot other people while committing a crime, resulting in the killing of two people and severe injury to a third. It is an insult to justice that he is not being held responsible.
“It is also worth noting that Rittenhouse was a child when he committed these acts. Among the most gutting aspects of his trial and acquittal on all charges is that the court afforded him the kinds of protections and benefit of the doubt at every stage that most Black children and children of color are never afforded in this country. In fact, many children of color never quite get to be children at all in a society that labels and objectifies them, from the cradle to the grave.
“Despite this absurd result and ongoing racial injustice, we will continue to fight for an America where everyone is safe from armed aggression, where everyone can also safely express themselves in a space that does not lead to fatal violence, and where all children are protected.”
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law— The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of voting rights, criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and hate crimes. For more information, please visit https://lawyerscommittee.org.