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Both sides react to Rittenhouse verdict

Emily Files
Justin Blake speaks to reporters after the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict is announced. Justin Blake is the uncle of Jacob Blake Jr., who was shot and wounded by a Kenosha police officer last year. The shooting set off protests and unrest, in which Rittenhouse killed two people and injured another.

After three full days of deliberation, the jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse case found the 18-year-old not guilty on all five counts Friday.

Rittenhouse killed two people and injured another in August 2020 in Kenosha, amid unrest over the police shooting of Jacob Blake Jr., a Black man.

Jacob’s uncle responded to the not guilty verdict on the steps of the Kenosha County Courthouse.

"This is a tragic-ass day in the history of our country," Justin Blake said.

More reaction from Justin Blake and others on the Kenosha County Courthouse steps.

Blake said Rittenhouse’s acquittal is an example of how the justice system treats white and Black defendants differently. Rittenhouse is white.

"I don’t know how they came to the final conclusion they did that he was innocent, but this is exactly why African Americans and minorities say the whole damn system is guilty as hell," Blake said. "And we need to be in the process of rebuilding the system that has African Americans going to jail at rates that you can't believe while our white counterparts commit heinous crimes."

Rittenhouse’s lawyer, Mark Richards, responded to the claim that his client’s acquittal is an example of a racially unequal justice system.

Emily Files
Kyle Rittenhouse defense attorney Mark Richards answered questions from the press outside of his law office in Racine.

"I don’t think it’s white and Black," Richards said. "I think there’s good lawyers, there’s bad lawyers. And lawyers make a difference, money makes a difference."

Richards said if Rittenhouse had a public defender who couldn’t put in the time private lawyers can, it might have been a different result.

Overall, Richards said he thinks video evidence shown to the jury made it clear that Rittenhouse acted in self-defense.

"I think the video evidence was overwhelming, and putting it in the context of Aug. 25 and what was going on — if Kyle had just been his word against everybody else there, he would have been going to prison today," Richards said.

Emily has been reporting on Milwaukee-area education for WUWM since 2018.
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