At the end of the third day of jury deliberations for the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, no verdict was given.
Although no one can listen to the jury members’ discussions, the context in which it happened almost certainly will affect their environment—if not also their reasoning.
At the height of the protests outside the Kenosha County Courthouse, about 30 protestors hungry for a guilty verdict stood on the steps. About 10 protesters who said Rittenhouse was innocent also opposed them.
“We won’t be intimidated,” anti-Rittenhouse protestors shouted at the counter-protesters who they outnumbered by nearly three to one. Media members likely outnumbered both sides.
Both sides made up for the lack of numbers with megaphones, but the protestors with Black Lives Matter and other left-wing groups put impressively loud organized chants to use.
At times, chants of “No justice, no peace” rang out for blocks around. Other mainstay protesting chants also made their appearance.
Although the words themselves weren’t entirely audible on the third floor of the courthouse, the cadence was the same one used in countless similar protests across the country. Anyone familiar with any 2020 protest would know the words.
According to several Kenosha locals, the Rittenhouse trial is the talk of the town.
“I don’t even want to listen to the news anymore,” said Nigerian Lyft driver Kehinde, a Kenosha resident. “I’m just tired, I don’t want people burning anything.”
Although Kenoshans disagreed about Rittenhouse’s guilt or innocence, all the ones The Epoch Times spoke with feared another fiery repeat of the riots that happened after the shooting of Jacob Blake.
Even a year and several months after the riots, many buildings rioters burnt never got rebuilt. Claims that business owners have insurance may be true in some cases, but the empty lots and boarded windows testify to a different reality.
Schools near the courthouse and beyond have shut down in anticipation of another wave of riots, residents say.
“If we don’t get it, shut it down,” the protesters chanted outside the courthouse. But even their answers on what they plan to shut down sound inconclusive.
“We’ll shut everything down,” the man leading the chant said. “The justice system, this whole system.”
People on both sides of the crowd of protesters said that they did not plan violence and were only there for justice.
“I don’t know what everyone else is gonna do. We’re gonna try to keep the peace,” said Cleveland Barrett, the commander of Chicago’s Royal Black Panther Party. He wore a resplendent uniform complete with a beret.
Barrett’s party has 465 members, according to its private Facebook page.
Carolyn Ruff, the founder of Black Lives Matter Women of Faith, agreed that she wanted peace. Black Lives Matter Women of Faith is a different group than Black Lives Matter, she said.
“If you’re at a protest to burn up your community, you’re only hurting your community,” she said.
But other protestors waved flags reading “Revolution/Nothing Less!” The drum the protestors beat had stickers saying, “This system cannot be reformed—it must be overthrown!”
A poster held by protestors refers to the burning of Kenosha as “the beautiful rising.” The leaders advocating peace stood on the steps within ten feet of it.
Even leaders seemed grossly ignorant of the Rittenhouse case itself.
“What I could see on the video, no, he was chasing after them,” said Ruff. This claim was false.
In the video, Rittenhouse can clearly be seen running away from a crowd of rioters until he fell and was attacked. He fired while charged and lying on the ground.
Bishop Tavis Grant with the Rainbow Push Coalition, founded by Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., falsely claimed that Rittenhouse was the only one on the streets with a gun during the incident.
Regardless of the facts or arguments from counter-protesters, the protesters on the steps continued calling Rittenhouse a murderer.
In this atmosphere of tension and disinformation, a reporter has already attempted to follow the bus on which jurors left. Police said they suspect him of attempting to photograph jurors.
Fights have also already broken out outside the courthouse.
Until the jury makes its decision, Kenosha will have “no peace and no justice.” But what the battered city might need most is mercy.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Jacob Blake was shot and killed. The Epoch Times regrets the error.