Kyle Rittenhouse, 18, who shot and killed two Black Lives Matter protesters in the American town of Kenosha last year, was acquitted on Friday. This is reported by Reuters news agency. After 26 hours of deliberation on Friday, the jury accepted his explanation that he acted in self-defense and therefore finds him not guilty of double murder and three other charges. Rittenhouse burst into tears after his acquittal, fell to the ground and had to be helped back into his seat.
In August 2020, the teenager traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin, where fierce anti-racism protests, gathered under the moniker Black Lives Matter, were underway. These were accompanied by arson and looting. Rittenhouse said he wanted to keep order as a self-proclaimed vigilante during the protests, but then shot two protesters dead and injured a third person.
Also read: In criminal case against ‘vigilante’ Rittenhouse, judge attracts the most attention
George Floyd and Jacob Blake
“I used lethal force to stop the threat that attacked me,” Rittenhouse said in court last week. According to him, 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum came from behind a car to attack him, he had previously threatened the teenager with death. Rittenhouse killed him with four bullets from his semi-automatic AR-15, then also shot 26-year-old Anthony Huber and 27-year-old Gaige Grosskreutz. Huber did not survive and Grosskreutz was seriously injured.
The shooting took place during a troubled summer of Black Lives Matter protests against the shooting of black man George Floyd by police in Minneapolis and later black man Jacob Blake in Kenosha. In Kenosha, there is fear that Rittenhouse’s acquittal will spark new unrest in the city. Dozens of demonstrators had gathered around the court on Friday afternoon local time.
The parents of victim Anthony Huber say through their lawyers that “their hearts are broken” by the ruling. According to them, the verdict “sends the unacceptable message that civilians can show up in any city, provoke violence, and then use the danger they have created as a justification for shooting people in the street.”
Criticism of judge
During the trial, 75-year-old judge Bruce Schroeder was heavily criticized. According to critics, he would be in favor of Rittenhouse. For example, he warned the prosecutors not to speak of ‘victims’ but of ‘deceased’, while he allowed the defense to call protesters ‘rioters’ and ‘looters’.
He also made a racist comment about Asian food and had a ringtone of the song God Bless the USA, which is also played at rallies for former President Donald Trump.
After the acquittal, Schroeder said he “couldn’t have wished for a better jury” citing their focus on the case.
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