The Rittenhouse verdict is shameful
More proof of the systemic racism in America that many deny exists.
Sree’s newsletter is produced w/ Zach Peterson (@zachprague). • Tweet by Nikole Hannah-Jones.
🗞 TUNE IN: Our #NYTReadalong this week is talking about the Rittenhouse verdict, 1619 Project and more w/ Dr. Karsonya Wise Whitehead and Dr. Walter Greason - Sunday, 8:30-10 am ET - guest-hosting is Neil Parekh (live or recording). Last week: Pulitzer-winning former NYT Supreme Court writer Linda Greenhouse. The Readalong is sponsored by Muck Rack. Interested in sponsorship opportunities? Email email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty verdict is the story. It’s the only story.
The precedents this trial sets are are just awful. Self-defense laws in gun-friendly states offer a lot of protection to the shooter — especially if the shooter is white. The judge in the Rittenhouse case ran an abomination of a courtroom, one that we will be watching clips from for years.
The worst part, though, is that this became yet another leading indicator of just how completely stacked the justice system is against people of color. Kenosha erupted in riots because a white police officer shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, seven times in the back.
Rittenhouse, 17(!), left his home in Illinois, went to Kenosha, and went downtown with an illegal rifle. He shot three people, killed two, and now he’s walking free, being celebrated by an embarrassing amount of right-wing personalities, including elected officials (who I will not name and give more reach to — you know who they are).
This week, we are handing things over to Bob Anthony (@newyorkbob, our weekly tech columnist), who knows and feels this differently than most because he lived in Wisconsin as a Black man, reporting in the 1980s (here’s a show he did with me, Prof. Amber Wichowsky and Dayvin Hallmon, a few nights after Rittenhouse’s murder spree).
Here’s Bob, in his own words…
Kenosha Takes a Giant Step Back, But Needs to Move Forward
The Kyle Rittenhouse verdict serves up a hard lesson on how far we have not come since George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis last year. It speaks of White privilege, vigilantism, arrogance and, most importantly, the uneven application of justice.
There’s simply no scenario I can envision where a Black man from northern Illinois could come into Kenosha, Wisconsin with a long rifle, kill two people, severely injure another and be allowed to go home unchallenged twice: Once the night of the shootings and again after a not-guilty verdict. It would almost require a parallel universe.
The Kenosha area is well-served in the way of law enforcement by city police, county sheriff’s deputies, Wisconsin State Patrol and has the aid of Wisconsin’s National Guard if needed. It did not need an armed, untrained, inexperienced, loose cannon of a 17-year-old from out of state to protect property during a tense civil uprising.
Rittenhouse’s exoneration by an almost all-White jury is an obscene insult to a gritty but resilient Kenosha community that deserves better. The city has evolved greatly from the blue-collar former home of American Motors, which still existed when Judge Bruce Schroeder first took the Kenosha County bench in 1983, to today where the city’s once-industrial Lake Michigan coast is lined with marinas and pricey residences.
The area has seen its share of recent disappointments. In 2017 Kenosha was on the cusp of becoming a Silicon Valley of the Midwest as Foxconn, the Taiwanese company that assembles Apple iPhone and iPads, proposed to build a massive LCD display manufacturing facility in nearby Mount Pleasant. Those plans, which promised thousands of jobs, have fallen as flat as the land cleared for unbuilt structures.
When Fisker, a new car company which has allied with Foxconn, announced that its new Fisker Ocean electric vehicle would be built in the US, there was a hope that it would be in Mount Pleasant. But Lordstown, Ohio, site of a former General Motors plant, got the nod.
Racial tensions, be they related to uneven law enforcement, redlined homes or lightly integrated schools, have existed in southeastern Wisconsin cities like Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha for some time, generating plenty of lawsuits and legislation but relatively few flashpoints.
But the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha, where a White police officer (who was never charged with an offense) fired seven shots into the back of Blake, a Black man who ended up paralyzed; and the Rittenhouse case, which seems to have established case law in which minors in Wisconsin can legally tote long guns because state law technically doesn’t prohibit it, leaves justice unserved for all; especially for the relatives and friends of those killed or injured.
And they leave Kenosha doomed to be thought of not for its vibrant industrial past or for today’s colorful and busy lakefront, but for its tragic appearances on newspaper front pages and news programs.
Kenosha, the city and the county, deserves better than this. And so does the country. All of us.
It couldn’t be said any better than that. We’ve included a few links below with more on the verdict.
This week, I made my first trip to Montgomery, Alabama, and the HQ of the Southern Poverty Law Center to celebrate its 50th anniversary (my Digimentors team is honored to partner with this legendary nonprofit that fought the Klan and is still fighting for racial justice). Please watch the video, which includes SPLC President and CEO Margaret Huang (@MargaretLHuang) and remarks from such fab folks as Stacey Abrams, Sen. Jon Ossoff, Rep. James Clyburn as well as a variety of partner organizations, all fighting the good fight. And please read Ms. Huang’s powerful statement on the Rittenhouse verdict.
It’s why we invest.
At this year's Armory Square Ventures (ASV) Annual Meeting Reception in September, the ASV community gathered in person after over a year.
To mark the occasion, we invited Buffalo Bills General Manager Brandon Beane to discuss how he has cultivated and recruited an exemplary, beloved professional football team and staff rooted in the Upstate New York region.
We love the ones who play hard through it all, magnificently, year after year, at the north end of New York State in spite of the weather (Go Bills!)
ASV Managing Partner Somak Chattopadhyay (@somakc) interviewed Brandon.
Watch the interview here.
More from Kenosha
It’s simply not OK for all of this to be legal.
This is truly grim. In this scenario, there could literally be a shootout in the street and not a single person would be found legally in-the-wrong.
The color of one’s skin matters so much in the American justice system. Just look around, the examples are everywhere.
The politics of this are cringeworthy now, just imagine where we’ll be in a year or two.
Odds & Ends
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! For Digimentors and its nonprofit clients, a lot of our attention now shifts to Giving Tuesday on Nov 30, 2021. Here are some tips written up by Linda Bernstein (@wordwhacker). Anyone working on #GivingTuesday initiatives will find them super helpful.
🗞 TUNE IN: Our #NYTReadalong this week is talking about the Rittenhouse verdict, 1619 Project and more w/ Dr. Karsonya Wise Whithead and Dr. Walter Greason - Sunday, 8:30-10 am ET - guest-hosting is Neil Parekh (live or recording). Last week: Pulitzer-winning former NYT Supreme Court writer Linda Greenhouse. The Readalong is sponsored by Muck Rack. Interested in sponsorship opportunities? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Be sure to check out “She’s On Call” podcast with surgeons Sujana Chandrasekhar, MD (@DrSujanaENT), and Marina Kurian, MD (@MarinaKurian).