The Michigan Coalition for Human Rights stands in solidarity with all of those working and fighting to eradicate racism and inequality in all its forms and with those actively working to bring about true justice. The jury verdict on November 19, 2021, acquitting Kyle Rittenhouse of all charges stemming from his August 2020 shooting to death of two men and seriously injuring a third, at a Black Lives Matter protest is a testament both to the strength of racism, fear, and hatred in our country and to the failure of our laws. These demonstrations in Kenosha were in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake who was shot seven times while moving away from the police to get into his vehicle and gunned down in front of his family, paralyzing him for life. This verdict was based on a legal defense that allows someone like Rittenhouse to show up in a town armed with a deadly assault rifle, incite others to violence, and then use the danger they created to justify shooting people in the street.
Homicide in defense of an insidious race/gender/economic hierarchy has been continuously permitted in what is now called the United States since before the nation state was formally constituted. And so, it was again in that Kenosha courtroom, and so it will be over and over until we dissolve the culture of violence without which that hierarchy cannot be sustained. This verdict sends a frightening message that it is acceptable to engage in lethal violence against those who nonviolently protest against racism and police violence in our country, and that racism, hatred, and opposition to equality for all persons in America is sadly ever-present. This is directly found in the careless actions of individuals who choose to devalue human life and rights of all persons, and a justice system that continues to fail our black and brown sisters and brothers.
We further note with sadness and regret that, within the conduct of the trial itself, Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum were dehumanized and erased while the character of their murderer was cleansed and celebrated. We say their names along with those of Elijah Lovejoy, John Brown, Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, Viola Liuzzo, Heather Heyer and all of the other whites killed for their efforts for racial fairness.
In this time of intensifying struggle to make a new world, MCHR reaffirms our commitment to replace the culture of violence with one of peace and justice. We send love and light to the families of those impacted by the actions of Rittenhouse and all others who have become victims of white supremacists’ tactics. We stand with you. This narrative is one that continues to repeat itself and must be eradicated. Change must come; we still have much work to do in the name of human rights. We must stop this vicious cycle and the time for action and change is now.