June 13, 2024

Biden on Rittenhouse verdict: ‘Jury system works, we have to abide by it’

President Joe Biden urged Americans to protest “peacefully” following the not guilty verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. 

Biden said Friday he stands by the jury’s decision.

“Look, I stand by what the jury has concluded,” the president said upon returning to the White House after a visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he reportedly received a routine physical and a colonoscopy, CNN reports. 

“The jury system works, and we have to abide by it,” Biden continued. 

Rittenhouse, an Illinois teenager, fatally shot two people during an August 2020 Jacob Blake protest in Kenosha, Wis. The protests started after Blake, an unarmed Black man, was shot in the back by a Kenosha, Wis. police officer. Blake is now paralyzed from the waist down. Rittenhouse was charged with homicide, attempted homicide, and reckless endangering of safety. 

He traveled across state lines and reportedly acquired an AR-style rifle, he said, to help support law enforcement and protect public property during the protests in Kenosha. Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, Anthony Huber, 26, were killed and Gaige Grosskreutz, 26, was wounded after the teenager shot the three men. 

Judge Bruce E. Schroeder and Kyle Rittenhouse
Kyle Rittenhouse and attorneys for both sides argue about a video in Kenosha Circuit Court on November 12, 2021 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mark Hertzberg-Pool/Getty Images)

Rittenhouse, 18, was acquitted of all charges Friday after pleading self-defense in the deadly shooting that became a flashpoint in the nation’s debate over guns, vigilantism, and racial injustice. He cried and hugged one of his attorneys upon hearing the verdict.

In a statement released Friday afternoon, Biden said the jury’s decision to let Rittenhouse walk free “will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included.” He said that everyone “must acknowledge that the jury has spoken.”

Biden also called on protesters to “express their views peacefully, consistent with the rule of law. Violence and destruction of property have no place in our democracy.”

During his presidential campaign, Biden suggested Rittenhouse had ties to White supremacists. He refused to comment on his past criticism of the teenager following Friday’s verdict.

“What I’m not going to speak to right now is anything about an ongoing trial nor the President’s past comments,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. “What I can reiterate is the President’s view is that we shouldn’t have, broadly speaking, vigilantes patrolling our communities with assault weapons. We shouldn’t have opportunists corrupting peaceful protest by rioting and burning down the communities they claim to represent anywhere in the country.”

Conservatives across the country have rallied around Rittenhouse, with many hailing him a hero because the two men he killed had criminal records.

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