Kyle Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old who fatally shot two men and wounded a third during protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last summer, was found not guilty on five counts of homicide and other charges after three days of deliberations by the jury.
Over several emotional days of testimony, Rittenhouse claimed he had acted reasonably to defend himself, and on Friday, the jury (which was predominantly of white) appeared to accept his argument, despite being shown a drone video of Rittenhouse shooting the three men—Gaige Grosskreutz, Anthony Huber, and Joseph Rosenbaum—with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle. Lawyers for the estates of Rosenbaum and Grosskreutz released a statement calling for peace instead of violence and saying, “What we need right now is justice, not more violence. While today’s verdict may mean justice delayed, it will not mean justice denied.” President Joe Biden was asked about the Rittenhouse verdict by reporters on Friday, responding, “I stand by what the jury has to say. The jury system works, and we have to abide by it.”
Rittenhouse’s trial had become increasingly politically polarized in recent weeks, with some conservatives adopting the Illinois teenager as an avatar of vigilante justice and gun rights and liberals presenting his acquittal as yet another example of the legal system’s favoritism toward white men. Congressman Jerry Nadler, D-New York, called for a federal review of the case after the verdict was announced, tweeting, “This heartbreaking verdict is a miscarriage of justice and sets a dangerous precedent which justifies federal review by DOJ. Justice cannot tolerate armed persons crossing state lines looking for trouble while people engage in First Amendment-protected protest.”