SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Bay Area attorneys are weighing in on the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict and the long-term legal ramifications it could have.
The result is forcing many people to look more broadly at the legal system as a whole.
Attorney John Burris joined others within the social justice community saying he’s not surprised by this verdict but he is disappointed.
This was a politically charged trial with a racial undercurrent and for Burris and others, the concern is what this verdict might be saying about people taking the law into their own hands.
The acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot and killed two men last year during a racial protest in Wisconsin, is getting reaction in the Bay Area.
The Oakland-based Anti-Police Terror Project called the justice system a system that rewards and prioritizes unaccountable white violence.
Civil Rights Attorney John Burris says this verdict raises the question if dangerous vigilantism is being condoned.
“I was disappointed that he wasn’t convicted on at least some of those charges but I’m not surprised given the manner in which the evidence was presented, the way the judge conducted the trial and the overall atmosphere that was centered in and about the trial itself,” Burris said.
Burris also points to a biased judge in this case.
The demeanor Judge Bruce Schroeder had toward prosecutors, Burris believes had a powerful impact on the jury’s decision.
“This was generated by the judge who I thought was horrible and it shows you how a judge can direct the verdict. Jurors can see what the judge’s attitudes are and the way they direct the trial,” Burris said.
Ultimately, the jury spoke in this case and found Rittenhouse not guilty of the charges, including first-degree intentional homicide.
A frightening lesson that can be taken away from this, Burris says, is if Rittenhouse’s behavior will influence others to take these actions.
“I think we have to take from this and keep moving forward. The social progress of this country hasn’t stopped because of one case. The question is, is this symbolic of another mood that’s taking place in this country,” Burris said.
Vice President Kamala Harris, who once served as San Francisco’s District Attorney and California’s Attorney General, reacted to the decision, saying:
“I’ve spent a majority of my career working to make our criminal justice system more equitable. It’s clear, there’s still a lot more work to do.”
President Biden said he stands by the not-guilty verdict, saying the country’s jury system works and must be respected.