Joseph Rosenbaum was a fiancée and a father. Anthony Huber was a son and boyfriend; he loved to skateboard and help people. Gauge Grosskreutz was a paramedic who attended Black Lives Matter protests as a volunteer medic and legal observer.
The people of Kenosha took to the streets to protest systemic racism, white supremacy, and police violence after Jacob Blake, a Black father of six, was seriously injured after a Kenosha police officer shot him seven times in the back while he was in a car with his children.
Portlanders protested this same systemic racism for 100 days straight facing severe police violence. The same system that we protested, the same system that allows police to kill with impunity, is the system that acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse today.
We are not done protesting.
Joseph, Anthony, and Gauge were on the streets of Kenosha demanding justice and the recognition of the humanity of Black people that our so-called justice systems continue to deny. The First Amendment rights to speech, assembly, and petition are not realized simply with First Amendment court cases. They are only truly won when all of our systems value the lives and voices of everyone, especially those who are not valued in our current systems. Any system that allows a person to be killed for protesting is an unjust one and must be dismantled.
We are not done fighting for Black lives to matter.
Kyle Rittenhouse armed himself with a semi-automatic rifle and cowardly killed and injured people who dared to stand up to injustice. No words can describe how wrong it was for him to shoot people because he felt ideologically threatened by their racial justice values.
And yet, today, the jury found Rittenhouse not guilty of all charges. This travesty of justice compounds the severe harm that Rittenhouse’s violence caused, a compounding of exponential degree upon the history and continuation of harm and violence to Black people in this country.
Our hearts and souls are heavy. We have so much anger, sorrow, and despair for the repeated violence and lack of accountability perpetuated by systemic racism and white supremacy. This jury verdict shows us again that anti-Black racism remains deeply embedded in our country’s consciousness and systems, including the legal system.
The ACLU of Oregon will continue to fight to dismantle systemic racism in Oregon, in our selves, and across the country.
We remember Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and stand with Gauge Grosskreutz. We mourn with their families and their communities. We mourn for all Black people harmed and killed by racist police systems and white supremacy.