Media statement from Johnny Zokovitch, Executive Director of Pax Christi USA, in response to the acquittal verdict in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse:

“The acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse sends the message that people who traffic in armed intimidation and deadly violence — especially in support of extremist views which threaten and demean the lives of Black and Brown sisters and brothers — can do so without accountability and justice. What we are witnessing is another revelation of how our systems transparently protect white privilege, exacerbate our nation’s addiction to guns and gun culture, and foster a culture of violence. Such messages are in utter conflict with what our faith tells us about our responsibilities to one another, about caring for and protecting the dignity of every human being.”

As Pax Christi USA’s Executive Director, Johnny also serves on the Interfaith Advisory Council for Everytown for Gun Safety. We offer the comments of two of his colleagues who also serve as members of the council for further reflection on today’s verdict:

Rev. Sharon Risher, whose mother, Ethel Lance, and cousins, Susie Jackson and Tywanza Sanders, were shot and killed on June 17, 2015, at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina:

“I had hoped he would be found guilty of something. Did I actually believe he was going to walk, yes. These kinds of events chip away at the hope you work hard to have. The judicial system is certainly tilted to favor white criminals!”

Rev. Jason Carson Wilson, founding executive director, Bayard Rustin Liberation Initiative:

“I want to yell, scream, and cry, but faith leaders are supposed to be calm, cool, and collected. Declaring Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty fills me with rage I struggle to process. This verdict shows that some people don’t think the lives of white people standing with Black people matter any more than Black people themselves. An armed Black teen wouldn’t have walked away from the scene of the crime.”

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Read additional Pax Christi USA statements addressing racial injustice, gun violence and more at this link.

9 thoughts on “MEDIA STATEMENT: This acquittal highlights white privilege, this culture of violence, and our addiction to guns

  1. His panic in that instant may have led to an act that could be considered self defense, but he should have been charged by the police for his armed presence at the scene in the first place. The only way that we can hope to change our racist status quo is to draw on the courage of all of those at the demonstration and keep standing up and standing with, and standing next to.

  2. The two men Rittenhouse murdered could have used the self-defense plea as well, if only they could testify. He was armed. They were not. Such a tragedy.
    Rittenhouse goes home to his mother. Two sons do not.
    We need peace with justice.

  3. I agree 100% something needs to be done about all the firearms in this country it’s definitely out of control

  4. Definitely something needs to be done about the firearms and the protection of all of us. May GOD lead and direct us. Amen

  5. An armed kid kills two people and goes home to live a normal life. If he wasn’t there with the rifle none of that.would’ve happen. If his skin would’ve been a different color he wouldn’t get to go home. Where is the justice in this

  6. To what extent should parental responsibility have been implicated and also should the person who supplied the gun to a 17 year-old be held responsible–morally and ethically, if not legally? When will laws in this country be formulated and/or changed to protect its citizenry–both at the federal and state levels? Discrimination appears to be alive and well systemically. If K. Rittenhouse had been a person of color, it can be conjectured that the police or someone else would have stopped him in his tracks and he would have been dead. Stop the killing–racially based, death row executions, the results of poor health care and lack of proper nutrition, and because of the drive for power and money. It can only be hoped that Kyle Rittenhouse and anyone affected by this situation can have some realization of how they can now influence society in a positive way. Perhaps the eyes of some other youth may be opened or participants in future actions(they are probably inevitable) will find strength in nonviolence.

  7. If only Rittenhouse and his parents would call for the end of gun violence NOW and call for swift changes to the second amendment to eliminate the prolific gun culture. Can they now call fir justice for all including people of colour? Time to learn from a deadly mistake.

  8. Had the prosecutor not been so greedy by trying to obtain a conviction for homicide,he could have tried and probably would have obtained a conviction for invountary manslaughter and this very troubled youngster could have received much need psychiatric intervention at some institution setting for the next 5 or so years.
    David-Ross Gerling, PhD

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