President Joe Biden on Friday warned against “violence” in the wake of the acquittal on all charges of a teenager who shot dead two people at a racially charged riot in Wisconsin.
Biden acknowledged that the verdict left him and “many Americans feeling angry and concerned,” but said the “jury has spoken” and must be respected.
“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,” he said, noting that his team had been in touch with Wisconsin authorities “to prepare for any outcome.”
Kyle Rittenhouse, the American teenager who shot dead two men during protests and riots against police brutality in Wisconsin last year, was acquitted of all charges on Friday after a high-profile and politically divisive trial.
A jury found Rittenhouse, 18, not guilty of reckless and intentional homicide and other charges stemming from the shootings that took place in August 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Rittenhouse, who claimed he acted in self-defense, sobbed and shook as the verdict was read, sank into his chair, and embraced his lawyer before rushing out of the courtroom.
There were scattered cheers and clapping from supporters of Rittenhouse outside the Kenosha courthouse after the verdict.
Several opponents marched around beating drums and chanting “Guilty, guilty, the whole system is guilty as hell.”
Rittenhouse testified during the two-week trial that he shot dead two men and wounded another with his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle after being attacked.
Prosecutors dismissed the self-defense claim, saying it was the then 17-year-old Rittenhouse who “provoked” the events during a night of unrest in Kenosha.