Reactions among Wisconsin politicians to the news that Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all charges are splitting along party lines.
Wisconsin’s lieutenant governor Mandela Barnes, the frontrunner in the 2022 Democratic Senate primary, issued a statement expressing dismay. “[T]he innocence of Kyle Rittenhouse was virtually demanded by the judge,” Barnes said, adding that “we can easily view this as a setback.”
Former GOP lieutenant governor Rebecca Kleefisch, who is seeking the 2022 gubernatorial nomination, said: “Our justice system worked today. The prosecution in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial was a complete disgrace, praising the mob who burned our streets as ‘heroes.’ … The tragic events that took place in Kenosha were unnecessary and avoidable. Lives were lost and businesses and livelihoods were destroyed while Tony Evers sat on the sidelines choosing lawlessness over law enforcement.”
Wisconsin GOP congressman Brian Steil, who represents Kenosha, called for peace and said: “This trial made clear that when authorities fail to utilize appropriate resources to protect public safety, violence and destruction often follows. The destruction in Kenosha did not need to occur. The events covered in the trial were avoidable if proper steps were taken last summer to reestablish public safety.”
During the 48 hours of rioting leading up to the Kenosha shootings in August 2020, Wisconsin’s governor Tony Evers only deployed a small number of National Guardsmen to the area. On the third night of rioting, when a 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse had his fateful encounter with a mentally-ill Joseph Rosenbaum, law enforcement officers were still “overwhelmed,” according to a Washington Post report at the time.
On Friday, Evers issued a statement calling on those who protest the verdict to do so peacefully:
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers reacts to Rittenhouse verdict: pic.twitter.com/NONAO17Rj3
— Molly Beck (@MollyBeck) November 19, 2021