The Congressional Black Caucus released a statement calling for criminal justice reform and gun reform just after a jury found Illinois teen Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty on all of the charges against him.
Rittenhouse, who shot and killed two people and wounded one more during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, was charged with murder and attempted murder. The defense argued that Rittenhouse had initially gone to Kenosha to offer medical assistance and help protect private property from vandals and looters, arguing that he had only fired his weapon in self-defense.
The CBC responded to the verdict with a public statement calling Rittenhouse an “armed vigilante” and arguing that his acquittal was proof that the justice system was broken and in need of reform.
It is unconscionable our justice system would allow an armed vigilante — who traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz — to go free.
Read the full release⤵️: pic.twitter.com/xmvx3NRtAo
— The Black Caucus (@TheBlackCaucus) November 19, 2021
“It is unconscionable our justice system would allow an armed vigilante — who traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz — to go free,” the statement, attributed to CBC Chairwoman Joyce Beatty (D-OH), began.
Beatty then addressed both the prosecution and the judge, suggesting that Rittenhouse’s self-defense claim was “ludicrous.”
“The ludicrous claim of self-defense is on par with the abhorrent behavior displayed by the prosecution and the judge,” Beatty continued, adding, “It is time for accountability. It is time for criminal justice reform, and it is beyond time for gun reform. The gun violence crisis in America is a challenge to the conscience of our country.”
Beatty concluded the statement by pivoting to tout bills that House Democrats had already begun work on in an effort to tackle the issues of gun reform and criminal justice reform.
“Democrats in the House have passed two bills aimed at strengthening the nation’s gun laws, including a bill that would require background check on all gun sales and transfers,” she said. “We also voted to approve legislation that would close the Charleston loophole. We don’t need to wait another minute — or another hour — to take common-sense steps that will save lives in the future. While today is filled with disappointment, we must continue to champion justice and gun reform, and condemn vigilanteism so this never happens again.”
Republicans largely opposed both of the bills Beatty mentioned when they passed the House in March of 2021, saying that they would do little to take gun violence off the streets and would rather put up barriers that would only succeed in preventing law-abiding citizens from freely exercising their Second Amendment rights.
Republican Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan said that all House Democrats were not going to accomplish anything with those bills other than simply “making it harder for law-abiding citizens to buy a gun.”