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American teenager Kyle Rittenhouse cleared of death of protester says self-defense is not illegal

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Kyle Rittenhouse claimed he traveled to Kenosha to protect businesses from looters and act as a medic.

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Kyle Rittenhouse, the American teenager acquitted after killing two men during protests and riots against police brutality in Wisconsin last year, defended his actions, saying self-defense was “not illegal” and saluted the jury for clearing him.

On Friday, a jury declared Rittenhouse, 18, not guilty of manslaughter and intentional homicide and other charges stemming from the shooting that took place in August 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The move sparked protests in cities across the country on Friday night – from New York to Portland, Oregon – as well as scattered applause outside the courtroom, and it garnered praise from advocates. guns, underscoring the conflicting nature of the case.

In comments released by Fox News, the teenager – seen smiling as he gets into a car after the verdict – said he was relieved his “difficult journey” was over.

“The jury has come to the right verdict – self-defense is not illegal,” Rittenhouse told Fox, ahead of a revealing interview which airs Monday night and a subsequent documentary about the teenager which is scheduled to air in December.

“I’m glad everything went well … We got through the tough part.”

Rittenhouse’s case gained national attention, in part because it stemmed from the Black Lives Matter protests that swept the country last year and featured a controversial mix of guns, racial tensions and self-defense.

The teenager said during the two-week trial that he shot dead two men and injured another with his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle in self-defense after being attacked during a night of unrest in Kenosha.

Rittenhouse, who lived in neighboring Illinois, claimed he traveled to Kenosha to protect businesses from looters and act as a doctor.

Prosecutors responded by claiming that Rittenhouse, then 17, “provoked” the events of a chaotic night that started when a white policeman shot a black man, Jacob Blake, in the back repeatedly during of an arrest, leaving him paralyzed.

– Controversial case –

The reaction to the verdict reflected the national divide over the right to bear guns in America – and where the line should be drawn on this constitutionally protected right.

President Joe Biden warned of violence following the verdict and called for calm.

“While the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans angry and concerned, including me, we have to recognize that the jury has spoken,” Biden said in a statement.

“I urge everyone to express their views peacefully, in accordance with the rule of law.”

In an editorial, the Wisconsin State Journal called the verdict “disappointing” and said it “would certainly embolden terrorists who seek to bring justice themselves.”

“But further violence in response to the verdict will not help anyone,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Gun Owners of America hailed Rittenhouse as a “warrior for gun owners and self-defense rights” and said they would “award” him an AR-15 like the one he used. that night in Kenosha.

Rittenhouse – who had faced five counts in total – received praise from some Republican lawmakers and former President Donald Trump.

The most serious charge – intentional homicide – carried a mandatory sentence of life in prison. The jury deliberated for a total of 26 hours over four days before returning a unanimous verdict of not guilty on all counts.

Shannon Watts, founder of gun control group Moms Demand Action, slammed the verdict.

“It is a miscarriage of justice that a teenager can cross state borders to participate in a protest he has nothing to do with; shooting three people, killing two; and not suffering any criminal consequences is a miscarriage of justice. an indictment of our criminal justice system, ”Watts said.

(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)

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