Civil rights groups and gun control activists have warned that the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse at his closely watched double murder trial underscores the country’s volatile gun culture and sets a horrific precedent for civil violence.
Igor Volsky, CEO of Guns Down America, said the November 19 ruling “will only lead to more political violence at the hands of individuals who believe their weapons are turning them into untouchable super-citizens.” He said in a statement.
Rittenhouse, 18, has been found not guilty on five felony counts of murdering two men and wounding another with an AR-15 rifle following brutal police protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, when he was 17 on August 25, 2020.
“Since we live in a country where a white person like Rittenhouse is able to cross state borders with an assault weapon during a protest against racial justice, or kill two, seriously injure a third, and succeed in portraying himself as the victim, we must,” Mr. Volsky said: We renew our commitment to redefining public safety.”
March for Our Lives, which was formed by high school students in the aftermath of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, in 2018, said the experience “reveals everything we’ve been talking about for years.”
“It is very clear that Kyle Rittenhouse exemplifies the great danger posed by the toxic combination of a white supremacist culture that values property over human life, and the widespread proliferation of high-powered rifles with limits below a driver’s license,” the organization said. in the current situation.
After a call from local militia groups for armed support for the area, Mr. Rittenhouse traveled from his home in nearby Antioch, Illinois, armed with an AR-15 rifle to Kenosha amid protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man, by a white police officer. , just a few weeks after the killing of George Floyd and the summer of the uprisings.
He was charged with five felony counts of first-degree reckless murder, first-degree premeditated murder, first-degree attempted murder, and two counts of first-degree reckless endangerment of safety. His lawyers said he fired his rifle in self-defense after being chased by a group they described as a violent gang.
The ACLU noted that armed militias allow weapons and the criminal justice system’s failure to protect them.
“This complicity, along with the cause of the protests that Rittenhouse has taken it upon himself to address — the police shooting of a black man outside a family job — highlights that violence in Kenosha is not an anomaly, but is endemic to a system that is endemic to the system,” said Brandon Boskey, director of the Penal Code Reform Project. of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Shereen Flynn, president and director of the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Education Fund, said the shooting “must be understood in an environment where armed militias and vigilantes are working to silence protesters, and where state legislatures introduce anti-protest bills in the wake of the demonstrations,” she said in a statement. The demand for racial justice.