Irate demonstrations broke out across the country following the Nov. 19 exoneration of Kyle Rittenhouse in the killing of two people during a protest against the racist police shooting of Jacob Blake, and the wounding of one other. The actions crisscrossed the United States, taking place in Oakland, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, Merced, Seattle, Chicago, Portland, Kenosha, New York City, Geneva, and more.
In Kenosha, Wisconsin, protesters gathered outside the courthouse where Rittenhouse was tried to protest the verdict. They came out even though, in an attempt to intimidate protestors, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers had activated 500 National Guard soldiers to Kenosha ahead of the verdict.
Around 400 people gathered at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on Nov. 19 just hours after the verdict was announced. After a rally, angry protestors marched through downtown Brooklyn and across the Brooklyn Bridge, where they shut down traffic for a half hour. Protesters rallied a second time in front of the Federal Building in Manhattan’s Foley Square. “We need a liberated world, a free society,” declared Na-Lekan Masego, an organizer with For Our Liberation.
The rally was organized by the mutual aid collective For Our Liberation and attended by organizations including the Party for Socialism and Liberation, the Democratic Socialists of America, the New York Young Communists League, and politicians like New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and City Councilman-elect for the 36th District of Brooklyn, Chi Ossé.
The San Diego branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation hosted a rally and march of 100 people in City Heights on Nov. 21. The emergency mobilization was co-sponsored by a dozen community organizations. Jose Cortes, a member of the PSL and the Peace and Freedom Party’s congressional candidate for California’s 50th District, told the crowd, “In this moment I denounce the verdict, we denounce the system that codifies these verdicts, and ultimately we acknowledge that only socialism and a socialist revolution will liberate us from the horrible exploitation, the suffering, the terrorist violence that we experience.”
Demonstrators marching around City Heights received enthusiastic support and drew participation from the community.
Hundreds gathered on Nov. 20 at the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis and marched for several blocks chanting in memory of Rittenhouse’s victims, and the names of several Black, Latino and Native people who were murdered by police.
Speakers included Kim Handy-Jones, whose son Cordale Handy was murdered by Saint Paul Police in 2017 and John Thompson, member of the Minnesota House of Representatives who became involved with the movement for Black lives and entered local politics after his friend Philando Castile was murdered by local police. Thompson passionately called out the Rittenhouse acquittal as a continuation of the same white supremacist legal system that allows those who take Black lives to walk free. He called the establishment media complicit in creating a wholesome image of white people who murder Black people.
The event was hosted Black Lives Matter Minnesota, Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB), Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, Minnesota Justice Coalition, Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee, Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar, Racial Justice Network, Native Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter Twin Cities Metro, and Blue LIES Matter.
People from the California Central Valley converged in Merced on Nov. 21 to stand together against the verdict that set Kyle Rittenhouse free. Protesters chanted, “Stop White supremacy,” and “Rittenhouse is guilty, guilty! The system is filthy, filthy!”
Participants expressed outraged by the biased trial presided by Judge Schroeder. Alexa Schuler, a member of Anakbayan Fresno, said, “This verdict could enable white supremacist violence.”
Nick McKenna of the PSL added, “the not guilty verdict of the killer Kyle Rittenhouse is yet another example of how the system protects and validates white supremacists and it is for this reason that we the people demand a systemic overhaul!”
Over thirty people from the Fingerlakes region gathered in Geneva, New York’s Bicentennial Park on Nov. 21 to express their outrage at the Rittenhouse acquittal.
Reverend Golden of Mount Olive Baptist Church, well known for his calls for unity and peace, reminded the crowd, that they have come together countless times in recent years in this park to call for justice and reject racist violence. Though criticized and condemned for standing for justice, he commended those there for doing what is right.
City Council member Laura Salamendra explained how the deeply unjust system of policing impacts Geneva. Just this week disgraced Geneva cop Jake Montesanto was convicted for choking a woman – but only sentenced to 15 days with 3 years probation. She described a cabal comprised of district attorneys, cops, and judges that sticks people with excessively high fines for even small offenses, pressuring them to seek plea deals rather than go to trial in county where conviction rates are over 90%. Salamendra said landlords also benefit from this deeply unjust system. When courts fail to protect tenants, landlords get away with all sorts of crimes, from failure to maintain their properties to unjust evictions to sexual harassment.
In Los Angeles, more than 50 people protested the Rittenhouse decision at the Florence & Normandie intersection, a major site of struggle in the 1992 LA Rebellion. The rally in South Central Los Angeles was called by PSL Los Angeles and the Coalition for Community Control Over the Police. These organizations demanded an end to white supremacy, conviction for Kyle Rittenhouse, and a new system that protects the poor and oppressed.
On November 20, the PSL’s Pittsburgh branch organized an emergency action to protest the racist acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse’s charges. They gathered in Pittsburgh’s South Side to give speeches expressing the outrage felt by millions of people across the country. Pedestrians and drivers alike stopped in their tracks to join in solidarity with the victims of the shooting, as well as addressing their overall disgust with the so-called “legal system.”
“If I did what Kyle did, I wouldn’t have made it home alive,” said one bystander. Many others, including children, cheered in approval as they rode by.
More than 20 people gathered in Seattle on Nov. 21 in front of Seattle Central College to denounce the verdict. PSL members were joined by representatives of Radical Women, Freedom Socialist Party and Seattle Revolutionary Socialists.