US President Joe Biden and the victims’ families must speak peacefully over the acquittal in self-defense on the 19th (local time) of a white youth who shot two people dead at a racist protester in August last year. However, protests in Portland, Oregon have escalated into riots.
Portland police called the protests “extreme” and called riots, the BBC reported the next day. About 200 people broke windows and threw objects into the streets and the police.
Shortly after the verdict, President Biden issued a separate statement saying, “This verdict will make many Americans angry and concerned, but we must recognize the jury’s decision.” We urge them to express their intentions peacefully in accordance with the rule of law.” Jacob Blake’s uncle, Justin, who was then responsible for sparking the racist protests in Canosa, Wisconsin, was acquitted outside the courthouse and said, “We will continue to fight and we will continue to be at peace. Let’s ring the freedom bell.”
Hundreds of people took to the streets in Brooklyn, New York, Chicago, Illinois, and Columbus, Ohio that afternoon to condemn the acquittal of the 18-year-old accused Kyle Rittenhouse. In Brooklyn, hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the Barclays Center, home of the NBA team, the Brooklyn Nets. Around 8 p.m., about 200 people gathered, and the protesters continued their march towards the Manhattan Bridge. Some protesters held up signs that read, “There is no justice in the capitalist courts.”
“This verdict is outrageous and reveals just how broken the justice system is,” said Natalia Marquez, who took part in the protest.
In Chicago, dozens of protesters gathered near the downtown Millennium Park occupied an intersection and confronted the police before marching in the ‘Federal Plaza’ square in front of the federal building.
In Columbus, a crowd of around 100 gathered in front of the Ohio State Capitol, chanting slogans such as “The whole hellish system is guilty” and “Send the murderer boy to jail.”
Rittenhouse participated in a protest with a white vigilante while on patrol in August last year in Kenosha, Wisconsin, when a black man, Jacob Blake, was paralyzed by a police shooting, which led to radical protests involving arson and looting. He killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Hoover, 26, and wounded Gage Groskreuz, 27. The victims were all white.
The incident, committed by Rittenhouse, who was only 17 at the time, sparked heated debates and divided public opinion over gun ownership rights, the role of vigilantes, and the definition of self-defense in American society. After 26 hours of deliberation, the jury accepted the defendant’s claim of self-defense to protect his life and acquitted him, and fierce protests are expected to follow for the time being.
Byeong-seon Lim, Executive Director, Peace Research Institute [email protected]