The judge in the Kyle Rittenhouse homicide trial is facing backlash for making an off-handed joke about Asian food in the courtroom Thursday.
“I hope the Asian food isn’t coming … isn’t on one of those boats in Long Beach Harbor,” Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder said ahead of a lunch break.
The joke, which appeared to reference the supply chain backlog impacting California ports that has left boats standing idle for days waiting to come ashore, left a bad taste among some in the Asian community.
John Yang, the executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC, a group dedicated to advancing civil and human rights for Asian Americans, slammed the comment as “definitely not okay.”
“Seriously, this remark can only be seen as a joke at the expense of Asians/Asian Americans. During a trial that clearly has race implications, no less,” he said.
Michele Dauber, a Stanford law professor, also condemned the joke.
“The biased judge in the Rittenhouse trial just made a thinly-veiled anti-Asian comment,” she tweeted. “Because all Asian food comes from China like the boats haha what a bigot.”
Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, a Democrat, said, “Schroeder has provided an example of how not to be a good judge.”
“The selection system in Wisconsin is also badly flawed. They are elected after initial appointment and there is no retirement age. This is why we have intemperate and unfit judges like this all over the country,” he added.
Schroeder, the longest-serving active circuit judge in Wisconsin, has stolen the spotlight in the trial several times.
He made a scene angrily chastising the prosecution Wednesday and previously made headlines for disallowing the people shot by Rittenhouse from being called “victims“, but allowing other words like “rioters,” “looters” or “arsonists” to be used.
Schroeder has not addressed the backlash over Thursday’s remarks, which came a week after a juror in the trial was dismissed for making a joke about the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Schroeder said at the time, “It’s clear that the appearance of bias is present and it would seriously undermine the outcome of the case.”
The defense rested its case in the high-profile trial Thursday, where Rittenhouse, 18, stands accused of gunning down two men and wounding a third during a night of protest and civil unrest last summer in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday.