President Joe Biden said Friday that he and many other Americans feel “angry and concerned” about the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse for killing two men and wounding a third man– but also said that people have to “abide by” the jury’s verdict.
Biden called for calm in Kenosha, Wisconsin, acknowledging the strong emotions that led to civil unrest and shootings by Rittenhouse there last year, and which authorities are concerned could recur after his acquittal.
” I urge everyone to voice their opinions peacefully, in accordance with the rule of law. In a prepared statement, the president stated that violence and destruction of property are not allowed in our democracy.
“The White House has been in touch with Governor [Tony], Evers’s office in preparation for any outcome in the case. I have spoken with Governor [Tony], and offered my support and any assistance necessary to ensure public safety. “
Biden originally spoke to reporters shortly after a jury found Rittenhouse not guilty on all five criminal counts.
“I stand behind what the jury has determined,” Biden stated outside the White House. The president stated, “The jury system works, we have to follow it.”
Shortly afterward, the White House issued a written statement by Biden.
“While the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included, we must acknowledge that the jury has spoken,” Biden said.
“I ran on a promise to bring Americans together, because I believe that what unites us is far greater than what divides us,” he said. I know we won’t be able to heal our country’s wounds overnight. But, I am determined in my commitment to doing everything in my power, to ensure that every American is treated with dignity and fairness under the law.
Biden, who said he had not watched the trial, last year in a tweet from his account included Rittenhouse’s image in a montage of photos and video to blast then-President Donald Trump for refusing “to disavow white supremacists on the debate stage. “
The shootings by Rittenhouse with an AR-15-style rifle came during civil unrest over the shooting of a black man, Jacob Blake, by a white police officer, which left Blake paralyzed from the waist down.
On Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki refused to answer a question about why Biden suggested that Rittenhouse was a white supremacist.
But, Psaki implied Rittenhouse was a vigilante in her reply.
“What I’m not going to speak to right now is an ongoing trial, nor the president’s past comments,” Psaki said. “I can reiterate the president’s view that vigilantes should not be patrolling our communities with assault guns. “
“We shouldn’t have opportunists corrupting peaceful protests by rioting and burning down the communities they claim to represent,” she said.
Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican representing Wisconsin, stated that he believes justice has been done in the Kyle Rittenhouse case. Johnson stated that he hoped everyone would accept the verdict and remain peaceful to allow Kenosha to heal and rebuild.