Split Kenosha crowd cheers, jeers Rittenhouse not guilty verdictClare Spauldingon November 19, 2021 at 8:52 pm

A supporter of Kyle Rittenhouse reacts as a not guilty verdict is read in front of the Kenosha County Courthouse on Friday. | Nathan Howard/Getty Images

“God Bless America” blared on a loudspeaker after Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges.

KENOSHA — A profanity-laced shouting match erupted outside the Kenosha County Courthouse moments before the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict was read.

Then “God Bless America” blared on a loudspeaker after the 18-year-old Antioch man was acquitted of all charges.

“I flew here from California. … I wasn’t going to let the Rittenhouse family be here and not feel supported. This is a just trial,” said Brandon Lesco. His sign read: “Free Kyle. The USA is still worth defending.”

The smallish crowd outside the courthouse was gathered into three clusters.

More than an hour after the verdict was delivered, a woman appeared to suffer a seizure on the courthouse steps. Law enforcement officers surrounded the woman. An officer shoved a Black man as a crowd formed around the woman.

On the steps of the courthouse, a woman had a seizure. Police came out to form a barrier around her, and one officer pushed a man protesting. pic.twitter.com/RqBC1MADkJ

— Clare Spaulding (@ceproctor23) November 19, 2021

Justin Blake, an uncle of Jacob Blake, whose shooting by a white police officer touched off protests in August 2020, was disgusted by the verdict. He said the trial’s outcome was “even worse” than prosecutors not charging the officer.

“It shows this city doesn’t welcome African Americans or minorities,” Justin Blake said.

Scott Olson/Getty Images
Justin Blake, the uncle of Jacob Blake, speaks to the media outside of the Kenosha County Courthouse after learning that Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges.

Johnathon McClellan, president of the Minnesota Justice Coalition, stood on the courthouse steps hours after the jury reached a verdict. McClellan called on the federal government to intervene and for the Wisconsin attorney general to re-charge Rittenhouse with illegal possession of a firearm.

Several cars drove by the courthouse honking their horns or cheering out the window. One pickup truck blared “Celebration.”

Rittenhouse, 18, was acquitted of all charges Friday after pleading self-defense in the deadly Kenosha shootings that became a flashpoint in the nation’s debate over guns, vigilantism and racial injustice.

He had been charged with homicide, attempted homicide and reckless endangering after killing two men and wounding a third with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle during a tumultuous night of protests over police violence against Black people in the summer of 2020. The former police youth cadet is white, as were those he shot.

The jury, which appeared to be overwhelmingly white, deliberated for close to 3 1/2 days.

Rittenhouse could have gotten life in prison if found guilty on the most serious charge, first-degree intentional homicide, or what some other states call first-degree murder.

As the verdict drew near, Gov. Tony Evers pleaded for calm and said 500 National Guard members would be ready for duty in Kenosha if needed.

Paul Sancya/AP
Sarah Hughes, right, a great aunt of Anthony Huber and his girlfriend Hannah Gittings, left, leave the Kenosha County Courthouse, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021 in Kenosha, Wis.

Scott Graser Sr., of Omaha, was pleased with the verdict. “Had he been found guilty of lesser charges, I wold still say justice had been served.”

Matthew McGinnis, who lives west of Kenosha, said, “I think the verdict sends the message that we have the right to protect ourselves.”

Dave Graham, who has been outside the courthouse all week with a sign reading “Unity Not Fracture,” was “shocked” by the verdict.

“If I was a criminal … I’d want that prosecution in my case,” Graham said. He called the prosecution the “worst example of [wasted] tax dollars.”

Nathan Howard/Getty
Dave Graham rests in front of the county courthouse while waiting for a verdict on the fourth day of jury deliberations in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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