Wisconsin Public Radio Host Troy McDonald, who has lived in Kenosha since 2004., said that for years before the 2020 shootings by Kyle Rittenhouse rocked the city and the nation, racial tensions had been simmering in Kenosha. “For the last twenty years, there’s really been a growing divide within the city.” McDonald said that his experience as a Black Kenosha resident mirrors historic racial disparities in access to paved roads, education and economic development in Black neighborhoods throughout America. “This kind of tension… has been simmering for the last 20 years,” he said during a Nov. 19 conversation with PBS NewsHour’s Nicole Ellis. These universal similarities observed by scholars like Eddie S. Glaude Jr. the author of How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul, led to an inevitable boiling point in Kenosha. Rittenhouse was acquitted of all five charges against him after pleading self-defense in the deadly Kenosha shootings that became a flashpoint in the debate over guns, vigilantism and racial injustice in the U.S.
He was charged with homicide, attempted homicide and reckless endangering for killing two men and wounding a third with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle in the summer of 2020 during a tumultuous night of protests over the shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, by a white Kenosha police officer.
Rittenhouse, a former police youth cadet, said he went to Kenosha to protect property from rioters. He is white, as were those he shot.
The anonymous jury, which appeared to be overwhelmingly white, deliberated for close to three and a half days.
Rittenhouse could have gotten life in prison if found guilty on the most serious charge, first-degree intentional homicide, or what some other states call first-degree murder. Two other charges each carried over 60 years behind bars.
Stream your PBS favorites with the PBS app: https://to.pbs.org/2Jb8twG
Find more from PBS NewsHour at https://www.pbs.org/newshour
Subscribe to our YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/2HfsCD6
PBS NewsHour podcasts: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/podcasts