A unanimous jury leaves the nation still divided

A unanimous jury leaves the nation still divided

An hour after a jury acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse of all charges related to his deadly shootings in August 2020, Mark Stach stood across from the courthouse steps and held a peace sign over his head. Just a few feet away, a crowd argued over gun rights, vigilantism and racial inequities in the justice system. Some stood nose to nose while quarreling, the spit and obscenities flying as they screamed at each other. “I don’t think it’s helping,” Stach said about his sign. “But I don’t know what else a guy can do.” Kyle Rittenhouse’s jury may have found unanimous agreement, but the arguments outside the Kenosha County Courthouse reflect how the country remains bitterly divided over the broader issues that overshadowed a very technical legal question. Since its inception, the case has served as a sort of cultural litmus test, with some seeing in the teenager a hero who used his Second Amendment right to defend himself and others viewing him as a gun-wielding white boy who believed he could impose his own sense of justice. After a two-week trial with 30 witnesses and multiple videos, perceptions have not changed. Within minutes of Friday’s verdict, gun-rights groups and anti-gun-violence organizations issued statements respectively cheering and jeering the decision. Several Congressional Democrats decried it, while the most conservative Republicans offered the teen internship opportunities. “The verdict is pretty consistent with our history as a country and our recent history,” said Alvin B. Tillery Jr., director of the Center for the […]

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