The acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse in a Kenosha, Wis., courtroom sparked plenty of opinions on Friday — divided in the same way the country is.

The baby-faced gunman, who killed two men and wounded a third at a Black Lives Matter protest last year was hailed as a hero in right-wing circles, while those on the left decried the jury’s decision.


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President Biden expressed anger, but at the same time, urged calm.

“While the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included, we must acknowledge that the jury has spoken,” the president said in a statement.

He urged Americans to express themselves in a peaceful manner despite their thoughts on the jury’s call.’

The Rev. Jesse Jackson said the not-guilty verdict could have chilling consequences for peaceful protests.

““It seems to me that it’s open season on human rights demonstrators,” he said.

New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams posted a statement on Twitter calling for “swift and righteous” measures to prevent future bloodbaths.

“This decision is an indictment of irresponsible laws that make our society far more violent and unsafe under the guise of personal freedom and so-called self-defense,” Adams wrote.

Rittenhouse’s defense team successfully argued their client had acted in self-defense when he killed two unarmed demonstrators, with whom he’d clashed.

“It also sends an extremely dangerous message to those in our country who seek agendas of anarchy — often born in prejudice and ignorance — to wreak havoc in their communities and potentially murder their neighbors,” Adams wrote.

New York U.S. Rep Jerry Nadler (D-Brooklyn) called the outcome of the trial a “heartbreaking verdict” and a “miscarriage of justice” that should be reviewed by the Department of Justice.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who’d earlier in the week attended the trial of three white men accused of killing unarmed Black man Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, called the Rittenhouse acquittal a reminder that these are “dark days” for the Black people whose suffering fuels the BLM movement.

The three people Rittenhouse shot were white, but they were attending a protest sparked by the shooting of Black man Jacob Blake by a Kenosha cop. Blake was left partially paralyzed, and protesters took to the streets.

“This verdict was not only outrageous and dangerous, it was also an obvious signal that encourages and notifies ‘vigilantes’ that they can continue to use violence to assert their power, and more importantly that they are above the criminal justice system when they do,” he said in a statement.

Eric Ward of the Southern Poverty Law Center summarized Rittenhouse’s situation as a systemic issue.

“Law enforcement unwillingness to uphold its mission of non-politicized policing led to a volatile environment where an armed vigilante was allowed to parade a weapon, engage racial justice protesters and depart the scene freely after having discharged a weapon that took the lives of two individuals and injured a third,” Ward wrote.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) tweeted, “It’s time to dismantle systemic racism & fundamentally transform our broken justice system.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom worried about the precedent the Rittenhouse case set.

“America today: you can break the law, carry around weapons built for a military, shoot and kill people, and get away with it,” the Democrat tweeted. “That’s the message we’ve just sent to armed vigilantes across the nation.”

Several conservative lawmakers viewed the situation differently, in some cases celebrating the verdict as a triumph for the right to bear arms and a vindication for the shooter. They also saw it as an opportunity to attack the mainstream media.

“Today, Kyle Rittenhouse has been found NOT GUILTY,” tweeted Georgia representative Marjorie Taylor Greene. “The media must apologize NOW!”

Noted gun enthusiast Lauren Boebert of Colorado saw the Wisconsin jury’s decision as a religious experience.

“Today is a great day for the Second Amendment and the right to self-defense,” she tweeted. “Kyle Rittenhouse is not guilty on all counts! Glory to God!”

Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, who was censured by Congress this week for tweeting violent imagery about New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, welcomed Rittenhouse to move to his state, if the 18-year-old can get into Arizona State University. The teen enrolled in an online program through the school last month.

©2021 New York Daily News. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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