Rittenhouse acquittal reaction highlights nation’s polarized politics: Republicans claim 2nd Amendment victory, progressives call it a miscarriage of justice

In the run-up to Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial, legal experts cautioned that no matter which way the verdict fell, larger political conclusions should not be drawn from the case. But in a highly-politicized and polarized America, that’s exactly what transpired after Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all counts Friday afternoon. Elected leaders and pundits on the right declared the verdict a victory for guns rights and the use of self-defense and a defeat for media entities they argued had unfairly smeared Rittenhouse. “God Bless America!” U.S. Rep. Mary Miller, a Republican from central Illinois, tweeted moments after the verdict. “Never surrender your Second Amendment right to defend yourself and your family.” U.S. Rep. Mary Miller (15th) at Republican Day on the Director’s Lawn at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021. (E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune) Many on the left decried the verdict as a gross miscarriage of justice that allowed a white teenager toting an AR-15-style rifle to walk free after killing two demonstrators and wounding a third amid the chaotic fallout of the Kenosha police shooting of Jacob Blake. Some progressives doubted the same verdict would have been afforded to a defendant of color. “This is a horrible decision and a miscarriage of justice. It sends a horrible message to those who are exercising their First Amendment rights,” said Democratic U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, whose district is centered on Chicago’s South Side. “It is clear that the decks were stacked against the […]

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