Democratic elected officials at the state and federal levels blasted a Wisconsin jury’s acquittal of teenager Kyle Rittenhouse of charges related to three 2020 shootings.
Rittenhouse was found not guilty of reckless homicide, intentional homicide, attempted intentional homicide, and two counts of recklessly endangering safety, leading top political figures to bemoan what they viewed as a miscarriage of justice. The heated, three-week-long trial included defense demands for a mistrial and reports of jury tampering. Rittenhouse’s attorney said at a post-verdict press conference that the defendant’s testimony was the difference between a conviction and an acquittal. (RELATED: New Drone Footage At Rittenhouse Trial Reveals Clearest Video Yet Of Rosenbaum Shooting)
The fact that all three of the men Rittenhouse shot were white did not discourage Democratic Missouri Rep. Cori Bush from claiming that his acquittal was “white supremacy in action.”
“This system isn’t built to hold white supremacists accountable. It’s why Black and brown folks are brutalized and put in cages while white supremacist murderers walk free,” she wrote, adding that she was “hurt,” “angry,” and “heartbroken.”
The judge. The jury. The defendant.
It’s white supremacy in action.
This system isn’t built to hold white supremacists accountable. It’s why Black and brown folks are brutalized and put in cages while white supremacist murderers walk free.
I’m hurt. I’m angry. I’m heartbroken.
— Cori Bush (@CoriBush) November 19, 2021
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro posited that if Rittenhouse was black, he would have been “shot dead by cops on the scene.”
You know damn well that if Kyle Rittenhouse were Black he would have been found guilty in a heartbeat—or shot dead by cops on the scene.
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) November 19, 2021
Democratic Wisconsin Lt. Gov. and Senate candidate Mandela Barnes argued that the acquittal was a “setback” on “a difficult road to justice.”
“We have seen so many black and brown youth killed, only to be put on trial posthumously, while the innocence of Kyle Rittenhouse was virtually demanded by the judge,” he wrote in a statement.
We have a difficult road to justice in America, and the verdicts we just witnessed in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial are just another example. While we can easily view this as a setback, we have to transform this moment. My full statement: pic.twitter.com/Ru4ZCcJ3T6
— Mandela Barnes (@TheOtherMandela) November 19, 2021
“No verdict will be able to bring back the lives of Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum, or heal Gaige Grosskreutz’s injuries, just as no verdict can heal the wounds or trauma experienced by Jacob Blake and his family. No ruling today changes our reality in Wisconsin that we have work to do toward equity, accountability, and justice that communities across our state are demanding and deserve,” Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers added in a statement.
Outgoing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared that the two men Rittenhouse killed, Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum, were “victims” who “should be alive today, adding that the verdict was a “miscarriage of justice.” Huber chased Rittenhouse while carrying a skateboard, while Rosenbaum tried to wrestle away his gun.
Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum are victims. They should be alive today.
The only reason they’re not is because a violent, dangerous man chose to take a gun across state lines and start shooting people.
To call this a miscarriage of justice is an understatement. https://t.co/TwaI2ghgM5
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) November 19, 2021
Despite the acquittal, Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom claimed that Rittenhouse still “br[oke] the law,” but that he “g[o]t away with it.”
America today: you can break the law, carry around weapons built for a military, shoot and kill people, and get away with it.
That’s the message we’ve just sent to armed vigilantes across the nation. https://t.co/yiVLN2v718
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) November 19, 2021
At the time of his arrest, many Democrats, including Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, and presidential candidate Joe Biden, called Rittenhouse a white supremacist or a terrorist. Biden did not directly respond to a question about the tweet sent from his account alleging that Rittenhouse was a white supremacist, but called for Americans to “abide by” the American jury system.