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“Kyle Rittenhouse is living proof that white tears can still forestall justice,” the congressman wrote on Twitter minutes after the verdict was announced. “A murderer is once again walking free today — our system is terribly broken.”
Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all charges after he shot and killed two men and injured a third in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time of the shootings, said he acted in self-defense during intense racial justice protests after he was pursued by protestors.
Rittenhouse testified that he traveled to Kenosha armed to protect property and administer first aid following weeks of protests that turned to riots across the country.
Espaillat was not alone in decrying Friday’s verdict.
Wisconsin Democrat Rep. Gwen Moore tweeted, “A system that legitimizes vigilante murder is deeply broken.”
And California Democrat Rep. Judy Chu simply said, “Our laws are protecting the wrong people.”
The White House has yet to comment on the case that captured national attention and became a flashpoint in the 2020 presidential race, drawing another line between Democrats and Republicans.
Republicans immediately championed the ruling as a win for justice following the announcement.
Rittenhouse, who would have faced a mandatory life sentence if found guilty, was visibly relieved after the final verdict was announced, falling to the ground before embracing one of his attorneys.