Suns coach Monty Williams is concerned Kyle Rittenhouse’s acquittal in the fatal shooting of two men and wounding of another during a night of protests in Kenosha, Wisc., last year could lead to “negative behavior” in the future.
“There are court decisions in the history of our country that have impact on people’s behavior and this is one of those court decisions that could impact human behavior and unfortunately, it seems like we’re rewarding behavior that’s similar to vigilante behavior and that’s something that we have to be careful of,” Williams said Monday night.
Rittenhouse, 18, faced charges of first-degree reckless homicide, first-degree intentional homicide and attempted first-degree intentional homicide. He also was charged with two counts of first-degree reckless endangerment.
“Speaking for myself, it was definitely disappointing but at the same time it really wasn’t surprising about the verdict,” said Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton during a postgame press conference. “I watched it a little bit, was able to keep up with it, but it’s something that I think we’ve all seen over and over again.”
Rittenhouse, who is from Antioch, Illinois, was acquitted on all five charges as his lawyers argued self defense. The case has created national debate on the state of the justice system and the right to bear arms.
“When you hear about a young man being applauded and made into a hero for what happened,” Williams said. “That’s something that, as a man, as a father. Forget my color, that gives me pause.”
Last year, a teacher in Dallas, Texas asked students to write an English essay about a modern-day “hero,” with Rittenhouse listed among the options.
The protests took place in response to Jacob Blake being shot seven times by a Kenosha police officer in August 2020. Rittenhouse became a focal point after the shootings that left Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, dead and Gaige Grosskreutz, 28, injured.
“So when I saw the decision and there was no responsibility at all, I started to think about precedent,” Williams said. “When you think about Roe vs. Wade, you think about Brown vs. The Board of Education, court cases that have affected behavior in our country. That’s something that whether you agree with it or not, a lot of court cases affect behavior.”
Williams concluded by reiterating his point of hoping the verdict doesn’t lead to reckless acts in the future.
“So I’m hopeful that in the future, we’re more mindful of that regardless of how you felt about the judge’s behavior or what went on in the courtroom, the decision, unfortunately, could affect behavior and I hope it doesn’t in a negative way moving forward,” Williams added.
76ers coach Doc Rivers, who is close friends with Williams, also looked at the trial from a historical perspective that left him having little hope of a guilty verdict.
“I felt it was a 1960s trial from the time it started,” Rivers said Saturday in a Philadelphia Inquirer article. “You know, it’s unfortunate. Our justice system is flawed. We keep being disappointed and keep having surprises, but nothing changes, and it’s sad.”
Rivers wasn’t surprised there wasn’t more of an uproar over the verdict, saying “the fix was in” and asked what would have happened if an African-American did the same thing. .
“I do agree with one thing: There wouldn’t had been a trial,” Rivers said.
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