Masses of people gathered coast-to-coast Friday night to decry Kyle Rittenhouse’s acquittal in protests that reflected the divisiveness and anger stoked by the high-profile case.
Hundreds gathered outside the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, to express their fury in the verdict as similar events unfolded across the nation.
Rittenhouse, 18, was acquitted by jurors on all charges – two counts of homicide, one count of attempted homicide for wounding a third man, and two counts of recklessly endangering safety – after killing two people during protests marred by arson, rioting and looting on Aug. 25, 2020, in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
A protest in Portland, Oregon was declared a riot late Friday after some of the 200 people started smashing windows, throwing objects at police, and threatening to burn down the local Justice Center, KOIN reported.
Meanwhile, scores of people were seen marching through New York about 7 p.m. carrying signs that branded Rittenhouse as a ‘racist killer’ and the judicial system as biased.
‘The message is that when you stand up for black liberation, when you stand up for black lives, no matter who you are you automatically become a target of the system,’ Na-Lakan Masego, a protester, told CBS New York.
Another speaker at the rally said the jury’s verdict was a blow to the entire nation.
‘By allowing Kyle Rittenhouse to walk away, this entire country – this government – has slapped us all in the face for the millionth time,’ he told the crowd. ‘We cannot allow them to continue treating us like we do not exist because they hurt us.’
People throughout the nation gathered to protest Friday after a jury acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse of all charges related to him shooting and killing two people in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year. Pictured: demonstrators protest against the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on November 19
Dozens of people in Chicago gathered to oppose the verdict, with one man holding a sign that reads ‘Kyle will kill again!’
Rittenhouse faced life in prison if convicted on the most serious charge for using an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle to kill two men – Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum – and wound a third, Gaige Grosskreutz.
Kenosha itself remained largely quiet as the night wore on.
A crowd of around 40 people gathered at the courthouse but remained peaceful. Many carried signs, including one saying ‘Welcome to AmeriKKKa.’
A middle-aged man, wearing a Stars and Stripes hat tried to provoke the crowd with a sign saying ‘Rittenhouse Rules!’
One young woman was arrested after she scrawled the words ‘White supremacists are cowards’ and ‘Judge Schroeder must go’ on the courthouse steps. She was referring to the trial’s judge, Bruce Schroeder.
Police, who had largely stayed out of sight as the crowd grew, swooped in quickly and hauled her away.
President Joe Biden has urged peace, saying the country must abide by the jury’s verdict.
A woman reacts in anger after learning of the verdict outside the courthouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on November 19
Pictured: protestors hold up signs in Los Angeles, California, following the acquittal
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said the issue revolves around the definition of self-defense, which Rittenhouse claimed to be acting in when he shot the three men.
‘It also depends who has a gun, and it also depends on what they’re actually fighting for,’ he told CBS New York. ‘It seems if you are trying to say something about Black Lives Matter or something about justice and equity, it doesn’t have the same weight.’
Others chanted ‘no justice, no peace,’ and ‘these racist cops have got to go’ as they marched.
One event speaker called on attendees to continue participating in such events as long as it remains necessary, despite the approaching winter.
‘Black lives are still mattering and they’re still going to be shot down,’ she said. ‘And when we call on you to show up, I need you to f***ing show up.’
In Los Angeles, the Coalition for Community Control Over the Police called on its supporters to step up in protest.
About 100 demonstrators marched through Oakland, California carrying signs that said ‘Rittenhouse: Racist killer’
Business boarded up windows and police erected barricades ahead of Friday’s protest in Oakland
Rittenhouse faced life in prison if convicted on the most serious charge for using an AR-style semi-automatic rifle to kill two men and wound a third
‘Kyle walked,’ the group said on its Facebook page.
It invited protesters to meet Friday afternoon at Florence and Normandie, where outraged masses gathered in 1992 after a jury acquitted four police officers in the brutal beating of Rodney King, sparking the LA riots.
‘Bring water and mutual aid items if u want to continue that work.’
Dozens of people gathered at Chicago’s Federal Plaza carrying signs that said ‘reject racist vigilante terror’ and chanting ‘lock him up,’ the Chicago Tribune reported.
‘He is part of a whole fascist movement that is gaining ground around the country and it will not stop until we recognize it and take matters into our own hands nonviolently refusing to accept a racist America,’ event speaker Jay Becker told attendees during the peaceful event.
Protests remained peaceful throughout the nation, including at the Brooklyn demonstration pictured above
Some shouted: ‘The whole damn system is guilty as hell. Indict, convict, send Rittenhouse to jail.’
In Northern California, businesses were boarding their windows and police were erecting barricades to prepare for planned protests, ABC News 7 reported.
About 100 people participated in an Oakland protest
Portland Police Bureau Chief Chuck Lovell said during a Friday press conference that it was ‘reasonable’ to expect protests in that city as well.
‘Here in Portland especially, it’s reasonable to expect there will be some type of reaction to the verdict,’ Lovell told reporters. ‘Like we’ve said many, many times, we’re supportive of peaceful protest, people exercising their First Amendment rights.’
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers also called for calm in a statement released Friday afternoon.
‘I echo the calls of local Kenosha community leaders and join them in asking everyone who might choose to assemble and exercise their First Amendment rights in any community to please only do so safely and peacefully,’ the governor said.
‘We must have peace in Kenosha and our communities, and any efforts or actions aimed at sowing division are unwelcome in our state as they will only hinder that healing.’