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We will not give in to “racism and fear”

CHICAGO – More than 1,000 people marched Saturday to protest the ruling in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial and gathered in Federal Plaza before marching downtown.

A jury on Friday acquitted Rittenhouse of willful homicide and other charges, finding the juvenile gunman had acted in self-defense when he fatally shot two men and wounded a third in downtown Kenosha, Wisconsin in August 2020.

The Rittenhouse case encapsulates racism in the judicial system, protesters said and sparked debates over gun rights and vigilante justice.

Jazmine Salas, an organizer of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, said the protest was about showing that protesters would not give in to “racism and fear”.

“I think we are in this moment when the vigilante groups feel very empowered. Your figurehead Kyle just got out, ”said Salas. “But I think as Chicagoans, as a mostly black and brown city, we are extremely powerful. … Today it’s about really showing our strength and not giving in. ”

Credit: Mack Liederman / Block Club Chicago Hundreds gathered in Chicago’s downtown Federal Plaza on Saturday to protest the ruling in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.

Rittenhouse, who is white and now 18, was in Kenosha on August 25, 2020 amid protests and social unrest after a white police officer shot and paralyzed Jacob Blake, a black man.

Rittenhouse, then 17 from a suburb of Antioch, got involved in the unrest by taking the opportunity to guard a used car parking lot with an AR-15 rifle. He also falsely claimed he was a certified medical practitioner in interviews prior to the shooting, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Rittenhouse later shot dead three men, two of them fatal.

Following a protest in Federal Plaza, protesters led by Rev. Jesse Jackson marched down Dearborn and demonstrated on both lanes of Michigan Avenue near Millennium Park before stopping at Thompson Center and returning to Federal Plaza.

Protesters shouted “indictment, conviction, send Rittenhouse to jail”.

“Too often white men get away with killing,” activist Catlyn Savado told the crowd that had gathered outside the Thompson Center. “If a white man crosses state lines and kills people, how are you not guilty? And the whole system is guilty too. “

Protesters say the Rittenhouse ruling shows racial bias in a legal system that forgives white men and over-criminalizes blacks and browns. They criticized Judge Bruce Schroeder for appearing to favor Rittenhouse, for example forbid prosecutors to refer to Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber and Gaige Grosskreutzas as “victims” – and said the term was too burdensome – but allowed the terms “Rioters”, “Looters” and “Arsonists”.

“Rittenhouse was protected when he entered this courtroom. And he left that courtroom into a society built to protect him, ”said Dod McColgan of the Chicago Alliance. “This judgment shows that the system does not reject vigilante groups – it supports and empowers them.”

“The verdict tells us to keep silent – under the threat of violence,” said activist Troy Gaston.

Chicago Public Schools teacher Saul Garcia noted that Rittenhouse can now lead a free life while Laquan McDonald and Adam Toledo, two black and brown Chicagoans in the Rittenhouse peer group, were killed when one walked away from an officer and another raised his hands to comply when he was shot.

“If you’re a white person, you can march down the street in an AK-47, you can shoot people, kill them, have blood on your hands and be free,” Garcia said. “But if you are a colored person, you will be executed straight away.”

Hundreds marched downtown on Saturday to protest the ruling in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.

Many held signs with photos of Rosenbaum and Huber calling them valiant allies of the Black Lives Matter movement. Bishop Tavis L. Grant II of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition was at the Kenosha courthouse and said he helped comfort the two men’s families shortly after the verdict. He plans to travel from Saturday’s demonstration in Chicago to attend a rally in Kenosha tomorrow.

“It was the same on the night of the murder. It’s like the judicial system fired one shot and killed their family members all over again, “Grant said. “Because so many people in the courtroom tried to demonize the victims and turn them into villains.”

In his remarks, Jackson said there was still a lot to be done to make the criminal justice system fair. He rejected President Joe Biden’s comments that people should respect the jury system and judgment.

“Biden said law is law. I do not believe that. So we have to change the law, ”said Jackson. “That boy, Rittenhouse, will be the murderer or two people as long as he lives.”

Jackson also called for the case to go to federal court.

“Rittenhouse is not finished yet. Jackson asked the crowd.

The crowd answered resoundingly: “No!”

Hundreds marched downtown on Saturday to protest the ruling in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.

In a statement following Friday’s verdict, Mayor Lori Lightfoot also said “we must respect the jury’s decision,” but reprimanded Rittenhouse’s actions.

“Nobody should ever take the law into their own hands or try to make themselves a judge, jury and executioner,” said Lightfoot. “What Kyle Rittenhouse did was ruthless, dangerous, and showed a total disregard for human life. My condolences go out to the family, friends and loved ones of the victims during this difficult time. Let us also remember Jacob Blake and his family and pray for him as he continues his rehabilitation journey. ”

Cook County’s chief executive Toni Preckwinkle said Friday the verdict was a “miscarriage of justice”.

“I think of the many young blacks and browns who never have and will never have the same privilege as Kyle Rittenhouse,” Preckwinkle said in a statement. “Our black and brown teenagers are routinely attacked, molested and even killed just for wearing hoodies, just jogging, just walking down the street, or just existing. But no one stopped Rittenhouse while he was carrying an assault rifle.

“My concern after today’s judgment is that it will only encourage others to commit similar crimes under the guise of law-keeping and reduce the right of individuals to protest peacefully.”

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