'Punch in the gut': Bay Area feels impact of Kyle Rittenhouse not-guilty verdicts

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ByLaura Anthony KGO logo
Saturday, November 20, 2021
Bay Area reacts to Kyle Rittenhouse not-guilty verdicts
Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty by a jury in Kenosha, Wisconsin Friday. Here's how Bay Area communities and police are responding.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- University of San Francisco Political scientist James Taylor believes the not-guilty verdicts in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial in Kenosha, Wisconsin will resonate deeply with the Black community, even though the defendant and those he shot are all white.

"People are shocked that it was unanimous, but they're not surprised," said Professor of Politics James Taylor at the University of San Francisco. "Everyone in America seems to have a common sense that if Kyle Rittenhouse were Latino or Black, that everything would've been completely different."

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"It feels like a punch in the gut, as it always does when America says Black life doesn't matter," said Cat Brooks, Co-Founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project. "It's happening in Kenosha, but it impacts all of us, right? It impacts Black people everywhere. It impacts the allies that stand with us, in the demand for Black liberation in this country everywhere."

Rittenhouse shot three people, killing two, during a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha last year. The teen's attorneys successfully argued, that he acted in self-defense.

"There wasn't any doubt that he shot these folks," explained UC Hastings Law Professor Rory Little, "So the jury was simply asked, 'Do you find that he was justified in self-defense, or really, do you find that the government hasn't proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he wasn't justified in that moment.'"

VIDEO: What charges does Kyle Rittenhouse face? Homicide counts, lesser charges explained

ABC News chief legal analyst Dan Abrams breaks down the explosive day of testimony as Kyle Rittenhouse took the stand in his murder trial.

"Others would say, he created this whole environment," said Oakland Civil Rights Attorney John Burris, "and therefore he shouldn't get the benefit of being able to claim self-defense because he is the one who started the whole event by the mere fact he had the gun and was pointing the gun."

The verdict in the Rittenhouse case is just one of several across the country that Bay Area police agencies are monitoring -- Another is the trial of three white men accused of killing a young Black man, Ahmaud Arbery, in Georgia.

"We are preparing, we are checking on intelligence," Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong told ABC7 News earlier this week. "We are hearing from other law enforcement at the federal and state level."

"I think the more pressing case as far as African Americans are concerned across the case is the Arbery case," said Taylor. "That's why Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are there."

Go here for the latest coverage of the trial.