“Not guilty.” Kyle Rittenhouse, 18, heard those words five times Friday before collapsing in court, overcome with emotion. 

After a two-week trial and over three days of deliberation, a jury in Kenosha, Wisconsin, had just acquitted Rittenhouse of all five charges against him.

Outside, on the steps of the Kenosha County Courthouse, protesters voiced their opinions on the jury’s verdict as media swarmed the scene. Thankfully, the protests that followed in Kenosha largely remained peaceful. 

Some held signs outside the courthouse with messages such as “Free Kyle,” while others, without evidence, called the 18-year-old a “white supremacist.” 

Rittenhouse was tried for murder after fatally shooting two men and wounding a third after being attacked while defending property in Kenosha from rioters on Aug. 25, 2020. All four of those involved were white.

Several nights of riots erupted in Kenosha following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, who is black, when he resisted arrest while armed with a knife.

The charges against Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time of the shootings, included first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, and attempted first-degree intentional homicide.

Rittenhouse maintained that he acted in self-defense, and the jury reached the same conclusion in finding him not guilty of all five charges. 

Despite the many opinions swirling around the Rittenhouse trial, the jury’s decision is a reminder that in America, cases are tried in courtrooms, not the court of public opinion.

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