A jury on Friday found Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty on all counts in his murder trial connected to the shootings of three people during unrest in Kenosha during the summer of 2020.
The verdict wasn’t a shock to many people NBC 7 spoke with. Several said they were disappointed because they believe the judge showed compassion and favoritism to the defendant.
Others believe there were signs the prosecution didn’t meet its burden of proof for reckless and intentional homicide.
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Rittenhouse, 18, was on trial for killing two men and wounding a third with a rifle during a turbulent night of protests that erupted in Kenosha in the summer of 2020 after a Black man, Jacob Blake, was shot by a white police officer. Rittenhouse said he acted in self-defense, while the prosecution argued he instigated the bloodshed.
A gun-rights activist, who didn’t want to be identified said this wasn’t a gun rights issue but one of self-defense and that Rittenhouse was held accountable by being put on trial.
Community activist Tasha Williamson said she could tell by the demeanor of the courtroom and when the judge gave instructions to the jury, that Rittenhouse would be acquitted.
“And now, you have given a green light to all the racists in America, to all the hate groups in America to say, ‘We can go to Black Life protests and kill people and claim self-defense.’ And that’s what this verdict did today,” Williamson said.
Williamson also had a message for young people who will continue the legacy of community activism.
“They need to understand what their rights are. They need to understand how to use their communication skills and they also need to understand how to use their fists and any weapons around them, so they can survive someone trying to kill them,” Williamson said. “We are not talking about Black people going out, looking for vengeance. We are talking about Black people being able to defend themselves from attacks.”
There has been some chatter online about a possible demonstration Friday night in San Diego.