Statement in Response to the Acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse

by White People 4 Black Lives

Image of people carrying a yellow banner that says “White People 4 Black Lives” in black writing.

Today, Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty in the killings of Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum and the injury of Gaige Grosskreutz. Those of us who align with anti-racism and abolition understand this as reflective of a justice system designed to uphold white supremacy.

Each time a white supremacist is acquitted for taking the life of another human being, it is a reminder that our so-called justice system was never really meant to uphold justice at all, and is in fact designed to uphold and perpetuate white supremacy. The US judicial system is built to protect and enable white supremacists like Rittenhouse and to criminalize and punish Black, Indigenous and people of color. The Rittenhouse verdict is part of the continued messaging that the US justice system deems white supremacist violence acceptable and claims his values and agendas as its own.

This verdict shows us yet again that the US judicial and carceral systems are not designed for true accountability for those who do harm, nor are they concerned with the needs of those who have been harmed. They are violent systems concerned only with punishing the most vulnerable. Incarceration could never redress the loss of life and does not heal the trauma and grief of that loss. Those who were killed are still dead, their families and friends still grieving, left to pick up the pieces on their own. Punitive justice does not stop the cycle of white supremacist violence; it perpetuates it.

We know that there is a future in which white supremacy does not exist; white people must diligently work in solidarity with Black, Indigenous and communities of color in order to build that future. Creating systems rooted in collective care and healing, while working to end the existing systems that uphold white supremacy and its attendant oppressions, is vital to reaching this future. As white people, it is crucial that we invest wholeheartedly in the creation of care-oriented systems and divest from the current punitive ones. No one is safe until we do.

Please join us and get involved in our local actions; we have upcoming new member orientations and will share ways that you can plug into ongoing work. You can also check out SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice)’s statement on the Rittenhouse acquittal as well as their national calls to action.

This piece was written as a collaborative effort by members of White People 4 Black Lives. WP4BL is a white anti-racist collective and activist project of the Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere (AWARE-LA) and operates within a national network of white anti-racists called Showing Up for Racial Justice. WP4BL is rooted in acting in solidarity with Black Lives Matter: Los Angeles. Visit www.awarela.org and follow us @wp4bl.

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Rosie F

Rosie F

Writer/contributor forWP4BL, the Los Angeles chapter of SURJ