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Kamala Harris says Kyle Rittenhouse acquittal shows justice system not ‘equitable’

Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday appeared to contradict her boss, President Joe Biden, in expressing disappointment over the acquittal of accused Kenosha vigilante Kyle Rittenhouse.

‘Today’s verdict speaks for itself,’ the vice president told reporters on the tarmac before boarding Air Force Two in Columbus, Ohio, on Friday.

The former California senator and San Francisco district attorney added: ‘I’ve spent a majority of my career working to make our criminal justice system more equitable.

‘It’s clear, there’s still a lot more work to do.’

Harris’ comments don’t jive with those made by Biden, who told reporters on Friday: ‘I stand by what the jury has concluded. The jury system works and we have to abide by it.’

Those comments by Biden generated a backlash from liberals on Twitter. Later on Friday, Biden issued a written statement saying he was ‘angry’ and ‘concerned’ over the verdict.

Vice President Kamala Harris

The acquittal of accused murderer Kyle Rittenhouse (left) in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Friday shows ‘there’s still a lot more work to do’ in making the criminal justice system ‘equitable,’ according to Vice President Kamala Harris (seen right in Columbus, Ohio, on Friday)

Harris' comments appeared to contradict those of her boss, President Joe Biden (seen above at the White House on Friday), who said he 'stands by what the jury has concluded'

Harris’ comments appeared to contradict those of her boss, President Joe Biden (seen above at the White House on Friday), who said he ‘stands by what the jury has concluded’

President Biden later released a statement on Friday that read: 'While the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included, we must acknowledge that the jury has spoken'

President Biden later released a statement on Friday that read: ‘While the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included, we must acknowledge that the jury has spoken’

‘While the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included, we must acknowledge that the jury has spoken,’ the president said in his written statement.

‘I know that we’re not going to heal our country’s wounds overnight, but I remain steadfast in my commitment to do everything in my power to ensure that every American is treated equally, with fairness and dignity, under the law,’ he continued.

‘I urge everyone to express their views peacefully, consistent with the rule of law.

‘Violence and destruction of property have no place in our democracy.’

Public opinion on the verdict was split largely along partisan lines. While Democrats panned the acquittal, Republicans praised it. 

Biden said the White House and federal authorities have been in contact with Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers and offered support as Kenosha and the nation brace for fallout from the verdict. 

Rittenhouse, 18, collapsed in tears as the jury in his double murder trial acquitted him of all charges after four torturous days of deliberation and weeks of testimony

Rittenhouse, 18, collapsed in tears as the jury in his double murder trial acquitted him of all charges after four torturous days of deliberation and weeks of testimony

Kyle Rittenhouse has been found not guilty on all counts. The verdict came in at 12.15pm Friday in Kenosha, Wisconsin, leading to fears that the city might once again erupt in violence

Kyle Rittenhouse has been found not guilty on all counts. The verdict came in at 12.15pm Friday in Kenosha, Wisconsin, leading to fears that the city might once again erupt in violence

Rittenhouse’s mother Wendy was in the public gallery and also burst into tears as the verdicts were read

Rittenhouse’s mother Wendy was in the public gallery and also burst into tears as the verdicts were read

As the first verdict was read, Rittenhouse, 18, started to shake as he fought back tears. But by the end he could hold them no longer and he collapsed into his chair then hugged defense attorney Corey Chirafisi

As the first verdict was read, Rittenhouse, 18, started to shake as he fought back tears. But by the end he could hold them no longer and he collapsed into his chair then hugged defense attorney Corey Chirafisi

As the first verdict was read, Rittenhouse, 18, started to shake as he fought back tears. But by the end he could hold them no longer and he collapsed into his chair then hugged defense attorney Corey Chirafisi

Clearly disappointed, prosecutor Thomas Binger, who has been heavily criticized for his actions during the case, sat back in his chair, looked at the ceiling, and issued a sigh as the verdict came in

Clearly disappointed, prosecutor Thomas Binger, who has been heavily criticized for his actions during the case, sat back in his chair, looked at the ceiling, and issued a sigh as the verdict came in 

In New York City on Friday night, protesters angry at the verdict stood holding placards

In New York City on Friday night, protesters angry at the verdict stood holding placards

Some outside the Barclay Center in downtown Brooklyn had megaphones and were decrying what they saw as an injustice

Some outside the Barclay Center in downtown Brooklyn had megaphones and were decrying what they saw as an injustice

A person holds a sign during a protest against the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict at the Barclays Center in New York City on Friday night

A person holds a sign during a protest against the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict at the Barclays Center in New York City on Friday night

In New York City on Friday night, several protesters angry at the verdict assembled outside the Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn. 

This comes as Republicans renewed demands that Biden apologize for calling the Kenosha shooter a white supremacist before the trial. 

Rittenhouse’s lawyer, Mark Richards, said he was dismayed by Biden’s depiction of Rittenhouse as a white supremacist.

‘I’ve never had a case, I don’t think I ever will, where within two days or three days of one another, you know, the President and the presidential candidate comment on it. And both of them had such different beliefs,’ Richards said.

‘President Biden said some things, I think are so incorrect and untrue — he is not a white supremacist. I’m glad that he at least respects the jury verdict.’

Tom Cotton, the Republican senator for Arkansas, tweeted: ‘Joe Biden needs to publicly apologize to Kyle Rittenhouse.’

Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican party, said: ‘Before he knew the facts, Biden prejudged the Rittenhouse case. He smeared a teenager to score political points and spread lies about this case. What Biden did was dangerous and inflammatory. 

‘Biden needs to apologize and ACT NOW before the left uses his lies to fuel violence.’ 

Left-wing response to Rittenhouse’s acquittal 

Cori Bush, a congresswoman for Missouri and member of ‘The Squad’ described Rittenhouse’s acquittal as ‘white supremacy in action’.

‘This system isn’t built to hold white supremacists accountable,’ she said. 

‘It’s why Black and brown folks are brutalized and put in cages while white supremacist murderers walk free. 

‘I’m hurt. I’m angry. I’m heartbroken.’

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez agreed, tweeting: ‘What we are witnessing is a system functioning as designed and protecting those it was designed for.’

Fellow Squad member Ayanna Pressley added: ‘Racism & white supremacy remain the bedrock of our legal system. My heart breaks for the family & loved ones of those whose lives were stolen, and the trauma our communities face today and every day. 

‘The struggle for accountability, for justice, for healing goes on.’ 

The head of the House Progressive Caucus, Pramila Jayapal, said: ‘I’m heartbroken. 

‘If we’re ever going to tackle racial injustice in America, we have to admit our justice system isn’t working for Black, brown and Indigenous people. Then, we have to transform it. 

‘It won’t be easy but I’m committed to organizing alongside you to make it happen.’ 

Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York, said that ‘to call this a miscarriage of justice is an understatement.’

He tweeted: ‘Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum are victims. They should be alive today. 

‘The only reason they’re not is because a violent, dangerous man chose to take a gun across state lines and start shooting people.’ 

Donald Trump’s PAC, Save America, sent an email soliciting funds for his campaign coffers and stating: ‘GREAT NEWS FOR KYLE RITTENHOUSE, who we knew was innocent all along.

‘This trial was nothing more than a WITCH HUNT from the Radical Left. They want to PUNISH law-abiding citizens, including a CHILD, like Kyle Rittenhouse, for doing nothing more than following the LAW.’

Dan Bishop, a congressman representing North Carolina, said: ‘Don’t forget, Biden labeled a 17-year old Rittenhouse a “white supremacist.” Beyond shameful.’

Marjorie Taylor Greene, a congresswoman representing Georgia, said that Rittenhouse was ‘one of the good guys’.

She attacked Biden for saying he was concerned at the verdict, warned that he was inciting violence, and angrily singled out fellow members of Congress who had condemned Rittenhouse’s actions.

‘Kyle Rittenhouse ACQUITTED on ALL charges! May Kyle and his family now live in peace. Those who help, protect, and defend are the good guys. Kyle is one of good ones. 

‘@JoeBiden is angry & concerned that the jury found Kyle Rittenhouse NOT GUILTY after being shown mountains of evidence proving his innocence. 

‘Biden calling for “peaceful protest” now against the verdict. We all know what it means when the left calls for“peaceful” protest..

And Lauren Boebert, the Colorado congresswoman who has made defense of the Second Amendment a pillar of her policies, tweeted: ‘Today is a great day for the Second Amendment and the right to self-defense. Kyle Rittenhouse is not guilty on all counts! Glory to God!’

Progressives, however, expressed dismay at the verdict.

Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York, said that ‘to call this a miscarriage of justice is an understatement.’

He tweeted: ‘Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum are victims. They should be alive today. 

‘The only reason they’re not is because a violent, dangerous man chose to take a gun across state lines and start shooting people. To call this a miscarriage of justice is an understatement.’

Rittenhouse did not take a gun across state lines before the shooting: he picked it up from a house in Kenosha.

Cori Bush, a congresswoman representing Missouri who is considered part of ‘The Squad’ of recently-elected progressives, said the verdict was ‘white supremacy in action’.

‘The judge. The jury. The defendant. It’s white supremacy in action,’ she tweeted. 

‘This system isn’t built to hold white supremacists accountable. It’s why Black and brown folks are brutalized and put in cages while white supremacist murderers walk free.  

The jury — a couple of them wearing masks — showed no emotion as the verdicts were read after four torturous days of deliberation and weeks of testimony.

What charges did Kyle Rittenhouse face? 

Kyle Rittenhouse shot three men, killing two of them and wounding the third, during a protest against police brutality in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year. Rittenhouse argued that he fired in self-defense after the men attacked him. 

Here’s a look at the charges that prosecutors carried into court, as well as lesser charges:

COUNT 1: FIRST-DEGREE RECKLESS HOMICIDE, USE OF A DANGEROUS WEAPON

This felony charge is connected to the death of Joseph Rosenbaum, the first man Rittenhouse shot. Bystander video shows Rosenbaum chasing Rittenhouse through a parking lot and throwing a plastic bag at him. Rittenhouse flees behind a car and Rosenbaum follows. Video introduced at trial showed Rittenhouse wheeling around and firing as Rosenbaum chased him. Richie McGinniss, a reporter who was trailing Rittenhouse, testified that Rosenbaum lunged for Rittenhouse’s gun.

Reckless homicide differs from intentional homicide in that prosecutors aren’t alleging Rittenhouse intended to murder Rosenbaum. Instead, they’re alleging Rittenhouse caused Rosenbaum’s death in circumstances showing an utter disregard for human life.

The charge is punishable by up to 60 years in prison. The dangerous weapon modifier carries an additional five years.

COUNT 2: FIRST-DEGREE RECKLESSLY ENDANGERING SAFETY, USE OF A DANGEROUS WEAPON

This felony charge is connected to the Rosenbaum shooting. McGinniss told investigators he was in the line of fire when Rittenhouse shot Rosenbaum. The charge is punishable by 12 1/2 years in prison. The weapons modifier carries an additional five years.

Prosecutors asked Schroeder to let the jury consider a second-degree version of this charge. The difference is that the second-degree version doesn’t require a finding that Rittenhouse acted with utter disregard for human life. Schroeder said he was inclined to allow that instruction, though he didn’t make a final ruling. The charge is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

COUNT 3: FIRST-DEGREE RECKLESSLY ENDANGERING SAFETY, USE OF A DANGEROUS WEAPON

Video shows an unknown man leaping at Rittenhouse and trying to kick him seconds before Anthony Huber moves his skateboard toward him. Rittenhouse appears to fire two rounds at the man but apparently misses as the man runs away.

This charge is a felony punishable by 12 1/2 years in prison. The weapons modifier again would add up to five more years.

Schroeder said he would decline prosecutors’ request that jurors be allowed to consider this charge in the second degree.

COUNT 4: FIRST-DEGREE INTENTIONAL HOMICIDE, USE OF A DANGEROUS WEAPON

This charge is connected to Huber’s death. Video shows Rittenhouse running down the street after shooting Rosenbaum when he falls to the street. Huber leaps at him and swings a skateboard at his head and neck and tries to grab Rittenhouse’s gun before Rittenhouse fires. The criminal complaint alleges Rittenhouse aimed the weapon at Huber.

Intentional homicide means just that – a person killed someone and meant to do it. Bucher said that if Rittenhouse pointed the gun at Huber and pulled the trigger that would amount to intentional homicide. However, self-defense would trump the charge.

‘Why I intended to kill this individual makes the difference,’ Bucher said.

The count carries a mandatory life sentence. The weapons modifier would add up to five years.

COUNT 5: ATTEMPTED FIRST-DEGREE INTENTIONAL HOMICIDE, USE OF A DANGEROUS WEAPON

This is the charge for Rittenhouse shooting Gaige Grosskreutz in the arm seconds after he shot Huber, and as Grosskreutz came toward him holding a pistol. Grosskreutz survived. Video shows Rittenhouse pointing his gun at Grosskreutz and firing a single round.

The charge carries a maximum sentence of 60 years. The weapons modifier would add up to five more years.

The possible punishment for attempted second-degree intentional homicide is 30 years.

DISMISSED – COUNT 6: POSSESSION OF A DANGEROUS WEAPON BY A PERSON UNDER 18

Rittenhouse was armed with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle. He was 17 years old on the night of the shootings. Wisconsin law prohibits minors from possessing firearms except for hunting. It was not clear on Friday what Schroeder intends to tell jurors about that charge.

The charge is a misdemeanor punishable by up to nine months behind bars.

Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed count 6 from Rittenhouse’s rap sheet Monday morning. 

COUNT 7: FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH AN EMERGENCY ORDER FROM STATE OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Rittenhouse was charged with being out on the streets after an 8 p.m. curfew imposed by the city, a minor offense that carries a fine of up to $200. Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed the charge during the second week of trial after the defense argued that prosecutors hadn’t offered enough evidence to prove it

Rittenhouse’s mother Wendy was in the public gallery and burst into tears as the verdicts were read, while Rittenhouse victim Joseph Rosenbaum’s fiancée and victim Anthony Huber’s girlfriend and great aunt tearfully listened as their loved ones’ killer walked free. 

‘I’m hurt. I’m angry. I’m heartbroken.’ 

Pramila Jayapal, the head of the Progressive Caucus, said: ‘I’m heartbroken. 

‘If we’re ever going to tackle racial injustice in America, we have to admit our justice system isn’t working for Black, brown and Indigenous people. Then, we have to transform it. 

‘It won’t be easy but I’m committed to organizing alongside you to make it happen.’ 

The district attorney for San Francisco, Chesa Boudin – considered one of the most liberal DAs in the country – also criticized the verdict.

‘This verdict demonstrates that our work to make our legal system equal, fair, and just is more urgent than ever. Prosecutors have a critical role to play in criminal justice reform and securing equal justice under the law. 

‘We will continue our fight for justice.’ 

As the first verdict was read Friday afternoon, Rittenhouse, 18, started to shake as he fought back tears. But by the end he could hold them no longer and he collapsed into his chair, then hugged defense attorney Corey Chirafisi. 

Immediately after the verdict was read, Rittenhouse, dressed in a navy blue suit and purple shirt and tie, was whisked out of the courtroom and into a waiting SUV. He was seen smiling as he was driven away. 

Two men in the public gallery gave each other a high-five but apart from that the ‘audience’ — as Judge Bruce Schroeder called them — remained quiet and filed out of the room.

Clearly disappointed, prosecutor Thomas Binger, who has been heavily criticized for his actions during the case, sat back in his chair, looked at the ceiling, and issued a sigh as the verdict came in. 

Defense attorney Mark Richards slapped the table  after the fifth not guilty verdict was read. 

All that was left was for Schroeder to complement the jurors for being attentive and co-operative. ‘I couldn’t have wished for a better jury,’ he said before reminding them playfully that they are eligible to be selected again in four years’ time.

He also told them that they had the right to discuss the case with the media if they wanted, but told them they also had the right not to. Their names have not been released and he said any media requests to talk to them would be handled by the court and passed on to the jurors. 

Now Kenosha is on edge to see whether it descends into violence again. 

Protestors from both sides milled on the courtroom steps — one white man saying how proud he was of Rittenhouse and the verdict, standing feet from a black woman railing about white justice.

The verdict marks the explosive end of a trial that has been riddled with controversy and drama that has threatened to derail proceedings more than once.

Outside the court, defense lawyer Mark Richards said Rittenhouse was feeling a ‘huge sense of relief’ at the verdict.

‘He is on his way home, he wants to get on with his life,’ Richards said.

Richards revealed that the defense team had two mock trials, one with Rittenhouse giving testimony and one without and it was clear from the jury reaction that he had to go on the stand.

He also said the jury deliberations were longer than any other case he had been involved in. 

Richards said he believed the Rittenhouse family would move out of the area because of the number of death threats they have received.

‘Kyle is in counseling for PTSD. He doesn’t sleep at night,’ he said.

‘Eventually some anonymity will come back to him but I don’t think he will continue to live in this area.’

He said Rittenhouse plans to be a nurse.

Richards also criticized prosecutor Thomas Binger. ‘Justice is done when the truth is reached. Prosecutors are supposed to seek the truth. It’s not about winning,’ he said.

But he praised Judge Schroeder, saying he had presided over a ‘fair trial.’

‘He gives you a fair trial as a defendant — but you don’t want him to sentence your client,’ he said, commenting on his reputation for handing out stiff sentences.

‘If we had lost we know what would happen, he would have gotten life in prison. We asked for a fair trial and we got one.’

He defended Schroeder’s decision to allow Rittenhouse to pick the from a tumbler the jurors who would become alternates, saying the defense team was ‘devastated’ that three of the jurors they considered most on their side were barred from the final deliberations. 

Binger had made it clear earlier in the week that he would not comment whatever the outcome of the case.

But his boss Kenosha County District Attorney Mike Graveley issued a statement saying: ‘We respect the jury verdict based on three and a half days of careful deliberations.

‘Certainly, issues regarding the privilege of self-defense remain highly contentious in our current times.’

Graveley added a plea for calm. ‘We ask that all members of the public accept the verdicts peacefully and not resort to violence.’

The family of Rittenhouse victim Anthony Huber said in a statement, ‘Today’s verdict means there is no accountability for the person who murdered our son. It sends the unacceptable message that armed civilians can show up in any town, incite violence, and then use the danger they have created to justify shooting people.’

About an hour after the verdict was announced a woman collapsed from what was believed to be an epileptic seizure outside the courthouse.

Police cleared demonstrators as an ambulance rushed to the scene.

The day started quietly as Judge Schroeder went through a docket of other cases. He arrived at the court shortly after 9am, stopping outside to chat with a group of photographers — jokingly asking why there were so many people around neoclassical courthouse which dates back to 1850.

Unlike nearly every other judge anywhere in the country, Schroder makes a point of walking to his chambers through the public gallery in the eggshell-blue-painted court, decorated with oil paintings of local legal luminaries.

Rittenhouse fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum (pictured), 36, with an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle after Rosenbaum chased Rittenhouse across a parking lot and threw a plastic bag at him shortly before midnight on August 25, 2020

Moments later, as Rittenhouse was running down a street, he shot and killed Anthony Huber (pictured), 26, a protester from Silver Lake, Wisconsin

Rittenhouse fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum (left), 36, with an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle after Rosenbaum chased Rittenhouse across a parking lot and threw a plastic bag at him shortly before midnight on August 25, 2020. Moments later, as Rittenhouse was running down a street, he shot and killed Anthony Huber (right), 26, a protester from Silver Lake, Wisconsin

Activists stand outside the Kenosha County Courthouse as the verdict is announced in the Kyle Rittenhouse

Activists stand outside the Kenosha County Courthouse as the verdict is announced in the Kyle Rittenhouse

Police stand guard outside the courthouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Friday after Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted

Police stand guard outside the courthouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Friday after Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted

Activists in favor of a conviction watch as a not guilty verdict is read in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse in front of the Kenosha County Courthouse

Activists in favor of a conviction watch as a not guilty verdict is read in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse in front of the Kenosha County Courthouse

Tanya McLean, aunt of Jacob Blake, reacts to the verdict in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse

Tanya McLean, aunt of Jacob Blake, reacts to the verdict in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse

Walking with a slight limp, he greeted reporters, court staff and lawyers as he passed through.

The first three hours of the day’s proceedings were quiet with a growing feeling in the court that the jurors were hopelessly deadlocked and no verdict would be coming before the weekend. Schroeder stayed in his chambers for most of the time.

But around noon, the judge ordered that the outer door to his chambers should be closed — for the first time in the trial. From then it was clear that the case was about to come to a close.

A few minutes later prosecution and defense attorneys came into the room along with Rittenhouse, who had been spending time outside the courtroom in a private room on the third floor.

Schroeder announced that the jurors had finally reached their verdict and made his warning to the public gallery not to react. ‘As you can see there are several members of law enforcement present and you will be whisked out of here if there is any reaction,’ he warned.

Then the jury of seven women and five men filed in, taking their seats to the judge’s left.

Schroeder told Rittenhouse to face the jury and ‘hearken’ to what they had to say.

Rittenhouse was charged with first-degree intentional homicide and other counts for killing Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz on August 25, 2020. 

Demonstrators have been gathered outside the Kenosha Courthouse all week, as Evers called in 500 members of the Wisconsin National Guard to counter the expected protests.  

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