We are extremely disappointed, although sadly not surprised, by the jury’s verdict acquitting Kyle Rittenhouse. The jury’s verdict exemplifies the racism which is embedded within the criminal legal system in this country. In the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, Kyle Rittenhouse came to Kenosha with an AR-15 gun – and was allowed to “patrol” the streets like a vigilante. After he shot and killed two people protesting the shooting of Jacob Blake (and wounding a third person), he was allowed to leave Kenosha (and turn himself in later to law enforcement). In contrast, we have seen repeated examples of unarmed Black people being killed for wearing the wrong clothes or acting “suspicious.” As a result, it should not be surprising that Black sexual violence survivors do not trust a system that threatens the safety of their families and communities.
This case provides yet another example as to why solutions to sexual violence cannot rely solely on deeply flawed systems like the criminal legal system. In fact, preventing sexual violence means addressing deep-rooted abuses of power – at both the individual and societal level. And that is why anti-racism will continue to be at the heart of our work to create the social change necessary to end sexual violence.