Nov. 19, 2021 By Allie Griffin
Queens officials largely condemned a jury’s “not guilty” verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial Friday.
Rittenhouse, who fatally shot two men and injured a third in Kenosha last year, was found not guilty on all charges including homicide after a jury deliberated for about 26 hours.
Rittenhouse, who was 17 years old at the time, shot the three victims on Aug. 25, 2020 amid protests against police shootings of Black men, such as Kenosha resident Jacob Blake. His lawyers claimed he acted in self-defense.
The case has been closely watched by Americans and has been highly divisive between the left and right.
Several Queens legislators took to Twitter and weighed in on the case Friday after learning of the jury’s verdict.
Council Member Francisco Moya was among many who said the criminal legal system is broken.
“What message are we sending when we have a justice system that fails to make people like Kyle Rittenhouse accountable for inciting violence and taking people’s lives?” Moya asked on Twitter. “It’s a broken justice system that further fuels white supremacy and privilege, and one that is far from justice.”
Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer shared Moya’s thoughts and also worried that the verdict sets a dangerous precedent regarding vigilantism.
“While sadly unsurprising, the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict lays bare the racial inequalities in America’s judicial system, while also setting a dangerous precedent that violent vigilantism is not only accepted, but legally justified,” Van Bramer said.
Council Member-elect Tiffany Cabán said the whole system reeks of “white supremacy.”
“The result is a reminder white supremacy isn’t the rot, it’s literally the whole damn foundation,” Cabán said.
She added that a guilty verdict wouldn’t have made everything magically better and just.
“And there’s so much pain in knowing a guilty verdict wouldn’t bring us closer to “justice” either,” Cabán said. “It sacrifices an individual to legitimize & prop up a system that’s killing us all.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shared a similar belief in a tweet she posted following the verdict.
“What we are witnessing is a system functioning as designed and protecting those it was designed for,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “My heart still breaks for the communities and families whose grief now compounds, and the countless others who will be denied and deprived in similar scenes across the country.”
State Sen. Michael Gianaris shared his thoughts on the verdict in just one line.
“Our criminal legal system is racist,” he tweeted.
Likewise, Rep. Grace Meng said the country must work towards “a more equitable America.”
“There is no justice in today’s verdict, or in how our system treats Black Americans every day,” Meng said. “I am standing in solidarity with the families of those killed and with everyone hurt by this miscarriage of justice.”
There is no justice in today’s verdict, or in how our system treats Black Americans every day. I am standing in solidarity with the families of those killed and with everyone hurt by this miscarriage of justice. We must work towards a more equitable America. https://t.co/jdbe7qch4v
— Grace Meng (@Grace4NY) November 19, 2021
Her colleague Rep. Gregory Meeks reminded people to remember the victims.
“Let us not forget that two people died unnecessarily, one injured, and their families are left behind with today’s judgment, but no recourse,” Meeks said.
He also criticized those on the far right who have made Rittenhouse out to hero.
“Rittenhouse was never the victim here – those making him out to be a hero are degenerates,” he said.
State Sen. Jessica Ramos, meanwhile, specifically criticized the judge who presided over the trial. Some people said he showed bias in favor of Rittenhouse and his supporters.
“The judge in Rittenhouse’s trial displayed shocking bias, but ask any public defender and they’ll tell you it was nothing out of the ordinary,” Ramos said in a tweet. “White supremacy is inherent in our legal system, and encouraged by judges who aren’t accountable to anyone.”
She also tweeted the phone number for the New York City Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild for anyone planning to protest the verdict.
If you intend to go out and exercise your right to protest in response, please be safe. Don’t go alone, tell someone where you are, and write the @NLGNYC phone number down: 212-679-6018
— Jessica Ramos (@jessicaramos) November 19, 2021
Council Member Robert Holden, meanwhile, criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio for condemning the jury’s verdict.
“Our lamest of ducks mayor apparently thinks he knows better than the jury in this case,” Holden tweeted. “This is no time for dangerous rhetoric that might stir up civil unrest in our city, just to try to help his quixotic run for governor.”
Our lamest of ducks mayor apparently thinks he knows better than the jury in this case. This is no time for dangerous rhetoric that might stir up civil unrest in our city, just to try to help his quixotic run for governor. https://t.co/QCaqUcWUZ7
— Robert Holden (@BobHoldenNYC) November 19, 2021