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Protests against Rittenhouse verdict erupt in several US cities




Small groups of protesters angry at Kyle Rittenhouse’s verdict demonstrated Friday night in Chicago, New York, Portland, Oregon and a few other cities

Mr Rittenhouse, who shot dead two men and injured another amid protests and riots against police conduct in Kenosha, Wis., Was found not guilty of homicide and other charges, in a deeply controversial case that sparked a national debate on self-defense, gun rights and the definition of self-defense.

After about 26 hours of deliberation, a jury appeared to accept Mr Rittenhouses’ explanation that he acted reasonably to defend himself in an unruly and hectic scene in August 2020, days after a white police officer shot Jacob Blake, a black resident, during a summer of turmoil following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

Mr Rittenhouse sobbed and was detained by his lawyers after a clerk read the jury’s verdict, acquitting him on all charges. After the shooting, Mr. Rittenhouse went from a 17-year-old stranger from rural Illinois to a national symbol. Some Americans have been horrified by images of a teenager carrying a powerful semi-automatic rifle on a city street during racial justice protests, a reminder of the extent of open porterage laws in the United States.

Others saw a well-meaning young man who had gone to keep the peace and provide medical aid, a response to the sometimes destructive protests that rocked American cities in the summer of 2020.

In Portland, police said a protest was a riot, claiming protesters smashed windows and damaged doors at city facilities in the vicinity of the Multnomah County Justice Center, which houses a jail and Portlands Police Headquarters.

Other protests across the country were peaceful. In Chicago, dozens of protesters gathered downtown and marched against the verdict.

Outside the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, protesters flooded into the crowd arriving at the arena for the evening Nets game. Brooklyn’s Sean Stefanic said he was there for the protest, not the game.

The fact that we’re not surprised by this is why I’m here, said Stefanic, 37. Because this is no longer surprising, despite the past year, especially after the drama of George Floyd.

Saman Waquad, 38, of Woodside, Queens, said she feared the verdict would embolden counter-protesters to bear arms.

What does this mean for civil disobedience? she asked. Does this mean we can no longer safely protest?

I didn’t expect there to be complete justice, but not guilty on all counts was a slap in the face, she added. If it was a black or brown child, he or she would be dead by now.

Ari Saffron, 23, of Queens, said the Rittenhouse trial had disillusioned him, revealing that there is no impartial justice system.

By 8 p.m., the crowd had grown to around 200 when the protesters left the arena and began walking along Flatbush Avenue toward the Manhattan Bridge.

In Columbus, Ohio, a hundred protesters overwhelmed by the verdict marched and then gathered in front of the state house, chanting that the whole system is guilty as hell and sending this killer kid to jail, according to a video posted in online by The Lantern, a student newspaper at Ohio State University. This article originally appeared in the New York Times




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