A public Massachusetts university offered segregated “processing” spaces to students following the not guilty verdict in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot and killed two protesters demonstrating against the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Last week, a jury unanimously declared Rittenhouse, 18, not guilty on all charges relating to the fatal shooting of two protesters — Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber — and the wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz.
In response to the verdict, Fitchburg State University’s Center for Diversity & Inclusiveness informed students about the “processing” spaces in an email sent to the student body, according to Fox News.
“The Center for Diversity and Inclusiveness is creating space for our community to process the ‘not guilty’ on all accounts verdict in the Kenosha, Wisconsin case where Kyle Rittenhouse, an Illinois native shot and killed two people protesting the wrongful death of Jacob Blake in 2020,” the email read, incorrectly stating that Blake had been killed.
Blake was severely injured in the August 2020 police shooting, becoming paralyzed as a result.
As Fox News reported, the university said the “processing” spaces would be divided into four different spaces: “Students of Color Processing Space,” “White Student Ally Processing Space,” “Faculty and Staff of Color Processing Space” and “White Faculty and Staff Ally Processing Space.”
In a statement responding to Fox News, a spokesperson for Fitchburg State University acknowledged the error regarding Blake’s condition. The spokesperson also defended the school’s use of what they called “identity groups,” saying organizing in such a way was a “proven educational strategy.” They added that the school planned to also have a “combined session.”
“The intention of the communication was to inform our community as quickly as possible of the optionally available space given the holiday break,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “These do not change the intent of the gatherings, which is to provide a space for members of the campus community to discuss their reactions and experiences.”
Soon after Rittenhouse was declared not guilty, protests broke out across the U.S. Demonstrations were held in cities including Chicago, New York, Portland and Oakland. Right-wing figures have hailed the verdict as a victory for self-defense and the Second Amendment. Critics have decried Rittenhouse’s acquittal as a miscarriage of justice and warned that it would encourage vigilantism in the future.