Site of Kyle Rittenhouse shooting at 60th and Sheridan in Kenosha, Wisconsin (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Nov 19, 2021
Brooklyn leaders react in disgust to the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse
Politicians, activists and residents weigh in on the verdict from the borough that has been a center of the national racial justice fight
More than 700 miles west of New York, a Wisconsin jury has found Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty of all five criminal counts he was facing, finding that the then-17-year-old who traveled across state lines from Illinois to Kenosha, Wisconsin, into anti-police brutality protests and ended up killing two men and blowing chunk off of the arm off of a third, did so in self-defense.
Here, prominent Brooklynites have taken to social media to express their dismay and frustration—and in some cases resignation—with the verdict. From city councillors to borough artists to community organizers, the reaction on Twitter in the minutes and hours after the jury’s decision has been one of almost uniform outrage, as many point to the Rittenhouse case as yet another expression of a broken justice system.
Antonio Reynoso, long-serving New York City councilman and newly elected Brooklyn borough president, sent love on social media to those hurt by the “unjust” Rittenhouse decision. “The fight continues,” he wrote in a brief tweet this afternoon.
Sending love to everyone feeling the pain of this unjust decision. We will not be deterred in our quest for justice. The fight continues.
— Antonio Reynoso (@ReynosoBrooklyn) November 19, 2021
New York City Councilman and incoming Comptroller Brad Lander, who represents the 39th District in Brooklyn that spans from Park Slope to Columbia Waterfront, weighed in online shortly after the verdict was announced, saying “Accountability for vigilante murders shouldn’t be too much to ask.”
Accountability for vigilante murders shouldn’t be too much to ask.
But again and again, our (in)justice system props up racial violence that is centuries deep.
— Brad Lander (@bradlander) November 19, 2021
“What’s the value of white tears (not even that many) in this country,” Brooklyn-based Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who threw his hat into the race for governor of New York this week, asked rhetorically on Twitter. “Clearly more than Black lives and those who fight for them.”
What’s the value of white tears (not even that many) in this country?
Clearly more than Black lives and those who fight for them.
Maybe close to the value America puts on guns, depending on whose hands they’re in.#RittenhouseVerdict
— Jumaane Williams (@JumaaneWilliams) November 19, 2021
Brooklyn artist and community activist Paperboy Prince hopped online after the verdict was handed down to announce he hadn’t taken much interest in the closely watched case—because he “knew it would end in bias,” with Rittenhose, now 18, being acquitted on all five criminal counts he faced.
I never got invested in the #KyleRittenhouse trial because I knew it would end in bias. We need to dismantle the “justice” system and have fair courts
— Paperboy Prince for NYC 👑 (@PaperboyPrince) November 19, 2021
Brooklynite attorney and founder of equity-focused consultancy Pink Cornrows Ifeoma Ike reacted on Twitter with both disappointment in the trial’s outcome and concern for those who protest racial injustice and police violence, saying that Rittenhouse’s trial has meant “Whiteness has been unleashed in a slightly different way.”
While not shocked, I will say as one who believes in protest and foot ministry, the thin layer of peaceful protest that was barely there is eroded.
Be safe in these streets. Whiteness has been unleashed in a slightly different way.
— Ify Ike (is thinking) (@IfyWorks) November 19, 2021
Councilman Brannan, representing the politically-diverse residents of Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst in the 43rd District, called “our ‘justice’ system broken” and highlighted that while “a white gunman can kill w/o consequence” in the U.S., Black joggers can be murdered—a reference to the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot while out for a run in a largely white neighborhood outside of Brunswick, Georgia.
Every American deserves justice. This verdict painfully illustrates again that our ‘justice’ system is broken. We live in a country where a white gunman can kill w/o consequence but a Black man out for a jog is murdered. We must fight racism everywhere & get guns out of our lives
— Justin Brannan (@JustinBrannan) November 19, 2021
L. Joy Williams
There’s no controlling the outcome reached by a jury, Brooklyn NAACP President L. Joy Williams wrote on Twitter after the decision, who says she instead spent today on more constructive pursuits, including community organizing around redistricting efforts and working with Black woman-focused political collective Higher Heights.
I can’t control the outcome of a jury trial and therefore I focus my energy on the things I can help change. Today that looked like gathering with the membership of @HigherHeights and organizing with local neighborhoods around redistricting.
— L. Joy Williams (@ljoywilliams) November 19, 2021
“Our American justice system is not broken, it’s working exactly as it was designed to,” wrote Marcela Mitaynes, New York State Assembly member who represents Red Hook, Sunset Park and northern Bay Ridge as part of the 51st District, on Twitter shortly after the verdict was read. She also called on society to replace our current justice system with one that “provides humanity and dignity to our collective struggle.”
Our American justice system is not broken, it’s working exactly as it was designed to.
White supremacy, fascism, and racism will never protect us. It’s up to us to dismantle it and replace it with system that provides humanity and dignity to our collective struggle. https://t.co/GtiyfQ4JzI
— Marcela Mitaynes #FundExcludedWorkers 瑪切拉 米坦斯 (@marcelaforny) November 19, 2021
George M. Johnson
Johnson, a Black non-binary author, journalist and self-described “prison abolishionist,” expressed his disappointment on Twitter after the verdict—not with Rittenhouse’s case, but with the justice system as a whole. “To be upset would be me believing this system ever worked,” he wrote.
I can’t even be upset about Kyle Rittenhouse. To be upset would be me believing this system ever worked.
— George M Johnson (@IamGMJohnson) November 19, 2021
Local organizer Chi Ossé is an incoming councilman, representing the 36th District, and at 23 is the youngest person to be elected to that body in the city’s history. He is the co-founder of the Brooklyn organization Warriors in the Garden, a youth-led collective at the forefront of the revitalization of the Black Lives Matter Movement. He minced no words about the decision.
Julius Jones has been imprisoned for 20+ years for a murder that he didn’t commit.
Rittenhouse KILLED two people, and is walking free because of his white skin.
Rittenhouse is yet another mascot for America’s white supremacist judicial system.
— Chi Ossé (@osse2021) November 19, 2021
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