Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice is deeply disturbed by the verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. With this verdict—Not Guilty on all counts—vigilantism is given free rein in Wisconsin. The message comes across loud and clear – it is OK for a white 17-year-old to brandish an assault weapon openly on the streets and murder unarmed people under the guise of “self-defense” in a situation largely brought about by the shooter’s threatening actions.
This verdict is part and parcel of the mounting expressions of white supremacy and increasing violence we are seeing around the country. More and more, we are seeing people violently taking the law into their own hands, from the murderers of Ahmaud Arbery, to Kyle Rittenhouse, to the Capitol rioters on Jan. 6. It is time for all people of faith to stand up and say “Enough!”.
Nearly 60 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men [sic] willing to be coworkers with God.” We must stand together to end the violence, and to bring real justice to Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice will continue to stand with the people of Kenosha and work for justice and peace throughout Wisconsin. Justice will come when all lives are respected, including black and brown lives. Justice will come when people can gather in peaceful protest without worrying that they are putting their lives at risk. Justice will come when the police no longer approach unarmed black and brown protestors with tear gas and riot gear, while allowing white self-appointed militia groups and vigilantes a free pass. And justice will come when individuals are not allowed to roam our streets armed with assault rifles, shooting and killing people who are trying to disarm them. Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice pledges to work to make that vision of justice real.