Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager who shot and killed two men and wounded a third during the protests and rioting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, was found not guilty by a jury on all charges on Friday. It drew reactions from athletes, many of whom had walked out of games last summer following the police shooting of Jacob Blake that prompted the protests.
Rittenhouse, who is white, was 17 in August 2020. He had an AR-style semiautomatic rifle with which he shot Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, Anthony Huber, 26, and Gaige Grosskreutz, 26. Rosenbaum and Huber died. All three are white.
Rittenhouse faced five felony counts, including first-degree intentional homicide. The misdemeanor charge of possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18 was dropped by the judge on Monday. His lawyers argued that Rittenhouse acted in self-defense while the prosecution argued he instigated the shootings, per New York Times reporting of the trial.
The shooting of Blake, a Black man left partly paralyzed, spurred protests around the sports world, led by Milwaukee Bucks, NBA and WNBA players opting not to play games for a night at their respective Florida bubble sites. Following the Bucks’ lead, the Milwaukee Brewers led a walkout. Other sports followed.
Athletes around the nation reacted to the verdict on social media, with many noting they weren’t surprised and questioning if it would have been the same had Rittenhouse been Black.
The Bucks (7-8) are scheduled to host the Oklahoma City Thunder at 8 p.m. ET on Friday night. Their arena is about 40 miles from Kenosha.
Athletes react to Rittenhouse verdict
Los Angeles Sparks forward and ESPN analyst Chiney Ogwumike referenced the verdict coming the day after Oklahoma inmate Julius Jones had his death sentence commuted. Baker Mayfield and other prominent athletes advocated for Jones in the lead-up.
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