KENOSHA, Wis. — The jury in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse has found him not guilty on all counts on Friday.
Rittenhouse pleaded self-defense in the deadly Kenosha shootings last summer. The then-17-year-old fatally shot two people and injured a third person with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle during protests and unrest sparked by the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
The jury came back with a verdict after three days of deliberations. Rittenhouse faced life in prison if found guilty of the most serious charge against him.
- COMPLETE COVERAGE: The Trial Of Kyle Rittenhouse
- Emotional Kyle Rittenhouse Reacts To Not Guilty Verdict [PHOTOS]
Local leaders in Wisconsin have voiced their opinions following the not guilty verdict.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers
Gov. Tony Evers said no verdict will be able to bring back the lives of Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum, or heal Gaige Grosskreutz's injuries.
"I echo the calls of local Kenosha community leaders and join them in asking everyone who might choose to assemble and exercise their First Amendment rights in any community to please only do so safely and peacefully," Gov. Evers said. "We must have peace in Kenosha and our communities, and any efforts or actions aimed at sowing division are unwelcome in our state as they will only hinder that healing."
You can read Gov. Evers' full statement below:
Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger
The Kenosha County prosecutor in this case, Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger, said that the outcome isn't what he wanted, but will accept it.
"The jury, representing our community, has rendered its verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse case. While we are disappointed with the verdict, it must be respected. We are grateful to the members of the jury for their diligent and thoughtful deliberations. The Kenosha community has endured much over the past 15 months, and yet we remain resilient and strong. We ask that members of our community continue to express their opinions and feelings about this verdict in a civil and peaceful manner."
Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.)
Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson said he believes justice has been served.
"I believe justice has been served in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial," Johnson tweeted. "I hope everyone can accept the verdict, remain peaceful, and let the community of Kenosha heal and rebuild."
Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.)
Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin said she is concerned the verdict will encourage more gun violence. Below is her full statement.
“Here are the facts that are important to me. Kyle Rittenhouse, who was a minor at the time, traveled from Illinois to Wisconsin, and picked up an assault rifle that was illegally purchased for him. He took the law into his own hands, killing two people and injuring another. They were victims of gun violence and too many families have lost loved ones to these tragedies. I understand why people believe that justice was not served in this case, because I feel the same way. This ruling makes clear we have so much work to do to take on gun violence, and reform our broken criminal justice system so that it starts working equally and fairly for everyone. In Wisconsin, this judge has now ruled that it’s legal for a minor to walk the streets in Wisconsin with an assault weapon. If that is true, then our state legislature should take action now in a bipartisan way to change the law and make it illegal. I am afraid many more people will become victims of gun violence unless we take action at the federal and state level to pass common sense gun safety reforms that take on this epidemic and start saving lives. To me that’s just common sense that most people in our state would agree with. The fact that some people are cheering a ruling that has allowed someone to take the law into his own hands and walk free from any accountability after shooting and killing two people is disrespectful to the lives that were lost, and I am deeply concerned that it will encourage more tragic gun violence from those like Kyle Rittenhouse who think they have a license to take the law into their own hands in a violent way. To those who protest this ruling, I strongly urge them to do so safely and peacefully because no one wants to see what happened last year happen again. I have met with community leaders, business owners and racial justice activists in Kenosha a number of times since the police shooting of Jacob Blake and I know that the entire Kenosha community has gone through a lot of heartbreak and that the work for healing, peace, and justice continues. I continue to stand with Kenosha as we work together, to move forward together.”
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said he condemns vigilantism.
“The residents of Kenosha have endured significant hardship over the course of more than a year, and they have worked hard to heal their community. It is imperative that everyone who wishes to make their voice heard about today’s verdict does so peacefully and respects the right of Kenosha residents to be safe and to continue healing. Let me be clear: I condemn vigilantism. It is dangerous and illegal, and it has no place in our communities. The actions of those attempting to take the law into their own hands only put the safety of law enforcement officers and communities in danger. We have work to do to make our communities more equitable and safer. We must work together to seek greater unity and not division, with hope and not fear, and we must be unwavering in our pursuit of equal justice under the law.”
Senator LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee)
Wisconsin Senator LaTonya Johnson reflected the not guilty verdict to race.
“The outcome of this case is, unfortunately, reflective of what I see in my community every day regarding how people of color and their allies are treated," Johnson said. "Black children and men are treated as suspects and perpetrators while walking the streets - or simply playing in their yards. It is a damn shame that too often this leads to them paying with their lives. Our society and our justice system treats white individuals differently than it does our communities of color, and we cannot allow that to continue to happen. My heart is with the families of Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum as well as with Gaige Grosskreutz and his family.”
Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee)
Wisconsin Senator Lena Taylor said the verdict is not a victory for anyone.
“Strong opinions and feelings will follow the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse. Questions about the charging decisions, what constitutes self-defense, judicial behavior, and the undercurrents of race will likely fuel conversations, debates, and declarations for years to come. While the verdict generated more questions than it answered, one fact is clear: today isn’t a victory for anyone. Today isn’t a victory for personal freedom, the 2nd Amendment or any other political “dog whistle” that some will trot out to explain what happened in Kenosha. Today is just sad. It is a sad reminder of the loss of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, the awful wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz, and the shooting of Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse and his family will forever live with the knowledge that he killed two people and non-fatally injured a third. Like other infamous shooters, his life will forever be under a microscope. While acquitted, the reality is that he will likely never be free of this horrific chapter of his life. Today, I also acknowledge the Black youth who have openly challenged the treatment of Kyle Rittenhouse. I understand their struggle to explain why an AR-15 in one minor’s hands means something different, than a handgun in another’s. I understand their frustration that claims of “self-defense” are often reserved for everyone else but them. For too many, today feels like another notch, in the rope of division that separates our communities and state. Today, we could easily become more entrenched, emboldened, and steadfast in what polarizes us as people. Yet, I encourage everyone to be deliberate in their peace, thoughtful in their response, and committed to the work to bring about changes that allow us all to be valued and respected"
Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas
“A jury in a Kenosha courtroom today found Kyle Rittenhouse, the armed Illinois teenager who killed two people and wounded another during social justice protests in Kenosha last summer, not guilty on all charges.“As many people across the country feel deep disappointment in this verdict, I share your frustrations. The American system of jurisprudence is still the beacon of the world and it has spoken. We may not all agree with the verdict, but let us remember Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber, Gaige Grosskreutz, their families, and all who were impacted by the events in Kenosha. “We must show restraint and remain calm - we all have the right to peacefully protest what we see as an injustice and we cannot take to violence to express our frustrations.“Today’s verdict shines a light on the challenges we must address together, as a community. We must acknowledge the deep division that exists in our country and find ways to reset the standard for civility and justice. We must have real conversations about criminal justice reform that bring about honest change. Working together to achieve true equity across our diverse communities, we can unite in order to be the change we want to see, and all play an active role in bringing about that change.“I urge us to continue working together as a nation to bring about liberty and justice for all.”
Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine)
Senator Van Wanggaard, who represents almost all of Kenosha County (excluding city of Kenosha) and most of Racine County, said justice was served.
“Whether or not you like this verdict, it was well deliberated and reflects, through the evidence presented, the opinion of the jury," Wanggaard said in a statement. "Those 12 jury members are among the only people in the world who saw all the evidence and arguments in the case. The jury undoubtedly felt the weight of the world on them while they discussed the evidence. What they did over the last 3 weeks was not easy- no matter what they had decided. The process, whether or not you agree with the outcome was followed and worked. Justice was served. Had Governor Evers and Lt. Governor Barnes taken control of the situation earlier last August, rather than fan the flames of unrest, this whole situation could have been avoided. Unfortunately, Barnes has already decided to fan the flames again. Words and actions have meaning. I hope that everyone else takes a deep breath and thinks about what they say before they say it. If you want to protest or celebrate, do so peacefully. Kenosha and Wisconsin cannot afford a repeat of last August."
Senator Chris Larson (D-Wis.)
Wisconsin Senator Chris Larson called the verdict disappointing, but not unexpected.
"Even if Mr. Rittenhouse was found guilty on all charges and sentenced to the fullest extend of the law, it would not undo the damage done to Kenosha or our nation," Larson said in a statement. "Nothing can bring back the two people he killed."
You can read his full statement below:
Senator Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point)
The current president pro tempore of the Wisconsin State Senate, Patrick Testin, said the justice system works.
"Despite many rushing to judgement before all the facts were known, today is proof that when due process is allowed to be carried out, our justice system works," Testin said in a statement. "The jury in Kenosha took the evidence presented to them and made their verdict based on the facts and the law alone—Kyle is not guilty. While some may disagree with the outcome, they must do so peacefully and, unlike their actions in 2020, Gov. Evers and Lt. Gov. Barnes cannot fail the people of Kenosha again."
Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes
Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who is running for the United States Senate, said we have a difficult road to justice in America, noting Rittenhouse's verdict as "just another example."
"It is a sad testament to the idea of justice how not a single person on my timeline is surprised," Barnes tweeted. "Everyone’s reaction was already written. People spent the entire week mentally preparing. The enabling and empowerment of vigilantism, plus the sheer effort to defend the taking of life, is not something we should ever be comfortable with. The first day of the trial may as well have come with a spoiler alert. The whole saga felt as it were directed from the bench."
Rebecca Kleefisch, a conservative running for state governor, called the prosecution a "disgrace" and criticized Gov. Tony Evers for how he handled the protests last summer.
"Our justice system worked today. The prosecution in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial was a complete disgrace, praising the mob who burned our streets as heroes.' The tragic events that took place in Kenosha were unnecessary and avoidable," Kleefisch said. "Lives were lost and businesses and livelihoods were destroyed while Tony Evers sat on the sidelines choosing lawlessness over law enforcement. As your Governor, I'll always stand for law and order."
Alex Lasry, the Senior Vice President of the Milwaukee Bucks who is running for the United States Senate as a democrat, said the criminal justice system has failed.
"Yet again, we’ve seen our criminal justice system fail the people it was supposed to protect," Lasry tweeted. "Kyle Rittenhouse crossed state lines with an intent to cause trouble. As a result of that, two families will never see their loved ones again. There must be consequences for this violence and loss of life. Not holding Kyle Rittenhouse accountable for the two people he murdered sends a message to others that dangerous behavior like his is acceptable; this precedent will only lead to further violence."
County Supervisor Ryan Clancy (4th District, Milwaukee County)
County Supervisor Ryan Clancy called the verdict an absence of justice.
“I was in Kenosha that night." Clancy said in a statement. "In response to reports that white supremacists had put out public, explicit calls on social media to kill protesters, law enforcement trained their weapons not at those people making the threats, but on the protesters themselves. I watched as independent observers and media were tear-gassed, and as protesters justifiably upset about yet another police shooting were driven from a public space, kettled, hit with pepper rounds, gassed, and funneled towards where three would be shot and two would be killed. This act of violence did not begin with Rittenhouse. It began with the curfew, the horrific police response which saw him as a “friendly,” and the system which went to great lengths to protect him, and itself, from accountability. Justice was never an option. We must change the system.”
Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley
Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley released the following statement:
“This case, and the international attention it brought to Kenosha for over a year, will impact the community and our entire state for years to come. No matter what your opinion on the outcome today, the healing begins in how we respond to this moment in our history. I stand with the many leaders in Kenosha and throughout Southeast Wisconsin in calling for safe and peaceful demonstrations from those who choose to assemble and exercise their right to have their voices heard. Peace in our streets and in our communities is what we need right now, and it is the only way we’ll be able to move forward.Nothing will bring back the lives of Anthony Huber or Joseph Rosenbaum. Gaige Grosskreutz will live with his injuries for the rest of life. No ruling would have changed those truths. However, I am reminded once again about how far we have to go in achieving the mission and vision at Milwaukee County: by achieving racial equity, we will become the healthiest county in the state. Today, we recommit to our values of equity, transparency, accountability, fairness, and justice because we know that for generations government policies and practices didn’t prioritize those values for all residents. We denounce the violence that brings pain to our neighborhoods and ends too many lives too soon. We are relentless in our pursuit to dismantle racism within our organization and give every Milwaukee County resident the chance to live a long, successful, healthy life. This is the necessary and critical work needed to move forward together, heal our communities, transform Milwaukee County, and the entire state, into a place that protects all of its residents and gives them every chance to succeed.”
Milwaukee Common Council President Cavalier Johnson
Milwaukee Common Council President Cavalier Johnson said he is praying for healing and peace.
"Today’s verdict in Kenosha shows that the arc toward justice is still bending," he said in a statement. "How in good conscience can an individual cross state lines, to protect property that he wasn’t asked to protect, with a weapon that he shouldn’t even have had, shoot three people - two of them fatally - and suffer no consequences for those actions? Is this the Wisconsin we’ve built? I suggest that as a state, we should reimagine who we are and think about how our justice system works for everyone. Kenosha’s heart has ached for too long. I’m praying for healing and peace there, across Wisconsin, and across our great country."
Milwaukee Common Council
Below is a statement provided by the following members of the Milwaukee Common Council: Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs, Alderman Ashanti Hamilton, Alderman Nik Kovac, Alderwoman Nikiya Dodd, Alderman Khalif J. Rainey, Alderwoman JoCasta Zamarripa, Alderwoman Chantia Lewis, Alderman José G. Pérez, Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic, and Alderman Russell W. Stamper, II.
"During the last two weeks, all eyes were on Wisconsin and the court case that was unfolding in Kenosha involving Kyle Rittenhouse. What happened that night in August 2020 was sad and disheartening, and while we cannot change what has already been done, we can expect the proper justice to be delivered for the families of those who lost their lives, and those who were endangered.That is what makes today’s decision so upsetting.The demonstrations and protests calling for equality, growth, and reform of our police and justice systems were not falling on deaf ears. Steadily, our community, and many across the country have been enacting change. Yet, we cannot help but feel that the verdict rendered today is two steps back after one step forward.We hope that the decision made today does not send a message about when it is permissible to take someone’s life and that as similar court cases take place in other areas, that this is not the start of a trend of vigilantes who commit acts of violence, only not to be held accountable.To our constituents: Know that progress cannot be pushed backward, and, although today’s verdict was a reminder of the fact that the road toward justice is long and winding, we are committed and will continue to work to make our city a place that is welcoming, just and equitable for everyone."
State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski
State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski said she found the verdict outrageous.
“It is outrageous that there will be no justice and no accountability for the deaths of Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum, or for the shooting of Gaige Grosskreutz," Godlewski said in a statement. "Last year, hundreds of thousands of Americans took to the streets crying out for change, but our system still remains broken. Instead of justice, violent vigilantism has been protected, and in Washington, politicians have let the calls for change go unanswered. Our leaders have to address the systemic racism that permeates our criminal justice system and work to ensure that America fulfills its promise of equal justice for all.”
State Rep. Gwen Moore
A system that legitimizes vigilante murder is deeply broken.— Rep. Gwen Moore (@RepGwenMoore) November 19, 2021
State Rep. David Bowen (D-Milwaukee)
State Rep. David Bowen said the verdict exposes major rifts in Wisconsin.
"The Rittenhouse trial verdict, whether guilty or not guilty, continues to expose major rifts in our state among neighbors of different experiences," Bowen said. "Race relations, which is the heart of this issue here, is at an all-time low and we can no longer ignore these rifts that are dividing our state without listening to all hurting communities. I hesitate to believe this case was impartial and was without prejudices. I have always and will continue to be a voice for peaceful protest. To be clear, protest is a right accessible to every Wisconsinite to engage in democracy and advocacy originating at the founding of our country. The protest movement is all about protecting lives and the basic rights of all people. I encourage anyone to do so peacefully and to have their voice heard. We will continue the protest movement in the spirit of peace and justice for all people. Wisconsin is at its best when we ALL are united in our empathy for everyone's experience. It is imperative that we work to make sure every citizen has the ability to live their God given destiny without the threat of losing their life. I call for a renewed commitment to have the tough conversations rather than the alternative that leads to violence from an individual who is not a citizen of our state coming in to divide us further."
State Rep. Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh)
State Rep. Gordon Hintz urged the people of Wisconsin to support continued healing.
“My thoughts are with the loved ones of Anthony Huber and JoJo Rosenbaum, who were killed by Kyle Rittenhouse on August 25, 2020," Hintz said. "Both men should still be alive today. I urge all Wisconsinites to support continued healing for the people of Kenosha and to reimagine what true justice and safety look like in Wisconsin. Let us all work to transform this painful moment into a turning point in ensuring accountability in public safety, addressing systemic racism in our state, and prioritizing true justice and healing in Wisconsin. This ruling is a green light for these types of people to instigate violence, only to use violence to escape accountability.”
State Rep. Barbara Dittrich (R-Oconomowoc)
State Rep. Barbara Dittrich asked the public to remain peaceful in response to the verdict.
“On August 26, 2021, I issued a statement decrying the inaction of Governor Tony Evers in responding to the violence, destruction, and total anarchy occurring in Kenosha after the justified police shooting of Jacob Blake. It was not until after businesses had burned that Evers finally relented and sent in the needed law enforcement help," Dittrich said in a statement. "While many feel strong emotions on whether a seventeen-year-old should have been there protecting businesses the night of August 25, 2020, the jury has now affirmed that young man’s right to protect himself when found under lethal threat by rioters. Kyle Rittenhouse has been found not guilty on all charges filed against him. Despite attempts at jury tampering and bringing forth inadmissible evidence, our justice system has prevailed. I now ask that the public remain peaceful in their response to this verdict. As we saw when the initial rioting and violence took place in the summer of 2020, this sort of behavior never results in good. May we all move forward now as a state and nation, healing and working towards more positive involvement in our communities.”
This is a developing story and will be updated as more statements are released.