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National conversation sparked by Rittenhouse verdict

Outrage has been filtering in from across the nation following the not guilty verdict of Kyle Rittenhouse on Friday, November 19. Rittenhouse shot three men, killing two, at a protest of police brutality following the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The now 18-year-old Rittenhouse was charged with First degree reckless homicide; First-degree intentional homicide; Attempted First degree intentional homicide; and two counts of First-degree endangering safety.

Two additional charges of possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18 and failure to comply with an emergency order from state or local government were dismissed.

“The verdict of not guilty is very revealing of the state of criminal justice in America. An overwhelming chorus of Americans across the country are not willing to accept this verdict like we didn’t accept the verdicts of Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin. Tomorrow is a call to action,” said Bishop Tavis Grant, National Field Director of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

“This is just one of many calls to action that will take place around the country. We aren’t just marching,” Grant said. “There is a public policy agenda we are working on including calling on the Department of Justice to investigate federal crimes committed by Rittenhouse, who was underage and unlicensed at the time of the fatal shootings.

“There are still federal laws he violated. He’s not off the hook, and he was aided by his mother.”

Bishop Grant said, “she should also be charged with aiding, abetting and assisting in Rittenhouse’s crimes. He should not have turned himself into the authorities in Illinois. Rather, he should have turned himself into authorities where the crimes were committed, in Kenosha.”

Local officials have begun to comment since the release of the verdict on Friday, with State Senator Eddie Melton releasing a statement shortly after the verdict.

“It’s truly a disappointment to see our nation’s criminal justice system consistently fail to hold certain groups and individuals accountable when they commit acts of violence, including a double murder,” Melton said. “The ‘not guilty’ verdict that Kyle Rittenhouse received today was disheartening but not shocking.

“If a Black teen had crossed state lines with a weapon he was not legally allowed to have—to “protect property” that wasn’t his—shot at and hit people, and then approached police while armed, there would not have been a trial. That teen would have been shot by police in the street,” Melton said.

“For Kyle Rittenhouse to face no accountability for a litany of crimes is not justice. This verdict speaks volumes about who we are as a nation and clearly illustrates that we still have a long way to go before we see the justice and equality we deserve in our criminal justice system.”

Despite Melton being critical of the numerous systems which came together in this verdict, he was quick to point out changes that should be made in the future, and expressed concern that hope not be lost as he works to make sure that a Kyle Rittenhouse situation could not happen in the state of Indiana.

“We can and must do better as a nation when it comes to holding guilty parties responsible, especially in cases where lives are lost,” Melton said. “I hope to advance legislation next year to further address some of the pervasive issues in our state’s criminal justice system, and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support my efforts as I prepare to roll out my legislative agenda. In our state and country, we must remain active in the fight to combat injustice and inequality in our judicial system.”

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