WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- President Joe Biden said on Friday that “the jury system works” and that people have to “abide by” the jury’s decision to acquit Kyle Rittenhouse.
- Rittenhouse was acquitted for killing two men and wounding another during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
- The president later acknowledged that many, including himself, feel “angry and concerned,” but he called for calm.
Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all charges for his role in a pair of fatal shootings in Wisconsin last year. When asked to comment on the trial, President Joe Biden told reporters on Friday that “the jury system works.”
The president was returning to the White House after completing his physical exam on Friday morning when he was asked by reporters if he still stood by his previous comments on Rittenhouse being a white supremacist. His presidential campaign had used an image of Rittenhouse in a video as he criticized then-rival, former President Donald Trump, for not condemning white supremacy.
Biden said that he had not watched the trial, but stated, “I stand by what the jury has concluded. The jury system works and we have to abide by it.”
Later, the White House issued a longer statement.
“While the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included, we must acknowledge that the jury has spoken,” Biden stated. “I urge everyone to express their views peacefully, consistent with the rule of law. Violence and destruction of property have no place in our democracy.”
Civil unrest erupted in Kenosha on Aug. 25, 2020, over the shooting of Jacob Blake, who is Black, by a white police officer. Rittenhouse, who was then 17, went to the protest and used a firearm. He was charged with reckless homicide in the slaying of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and intentional homicide in the death of Anthony Huber, 26.
His case became politicized as right-wing media hailed him as a hero while liberals called for gun safety and pointed out racial inequities in the justice system.
Presiding Judge Bruce Schroeder urged jurors to put their personal politics aside ahead of deliberations, reminding them to “pay no heed to the opinions of anyone, even the president of the United States, or the president before him.”
Still, Rittenhouse’s acquittal similarly resulted in partisan reactions.
Trump congratulated Rittenhouse “for being found INNOCENT of all charges. It’s called being found NOT GUILTY.”
Meanwhile, Vice president Kamala Harris stated, “Today’s verdict speaks for itself. I’ve spent a majority of my career working to make our criminal justice system more equitable. It’s clear, there’s still a lot more work to do.”
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) called for “strong gun safety laws” while Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) stated that everyone has “a right to defend yourselves.”
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) commended the jury, stating, “I believe justice has been served in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. I hope everyone can accept the verdict, remain peaceful, and let the community of Kenosha heal and rebuild.”
Source: NBC News