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NAACP president calls Rittenhouse verdict ‘a warning shot that vigilante justice is allowed’

NAACP President Derrick Johnson on Sunday called the not guilty verdict in Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial a “warning shot that vigilante justice is allowed,” adding that it’s hard for African Americans to reconcile the result with their experience with the country’s justice system. 

Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges against him on Friday after fatally shooting two people and injuring another during protests in Kenosha, Wis., last summer.

Speaking with Margaret Brennan on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Johnson compared the crimes Black people have been convicted of to the actions of Rittenhouse, which were not deemed criminal. 

“We have far too many individuals sitting in jail for crimes they didn’t commit or overcharged for crimes that were committed,” Johnson said.

“So it’s hard to reconcile the verdict with the experience that many African Americans have faced over the several decades. This trial for us is a warning shot that vigilante justice is allowed in this country or in particular communities,” he added.

A 12-person jury unanimously acquitted Rittenhouse of all five charges against him Friday, bringing an end to the highly publicized case.

Rittenhouse, then 17 years old, shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, during protests last year that broke out following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man. Rittenhouse also shot and injured Gaige Grosskreutz, who was 26 years old at the time.

Rittenhouse, now 18 years old, was charged with first-degree intentional homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide and two counts of reckless endangerment.

NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace on Friday said he believes that Rittenhouse would have received a life in prison sentence if he were Black.

“​​Ha, let the boy be black and it would’ve been life…hell he would’ve had his life taken before the bullshit trial.. sad,” Wallace said in a tweet after the verdict.

President Biden on Friday said he felt angry following the verdict but concluded that “the jury has spoken.” He also urged Americans to “express their views peacefully, consistent with the rule of law.”

“Violence and destruction of property have no place in our democracy,” he added.

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