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Kyle Rittenhouse trial: protests in USA as teenager receives not guilty verdict for 2020 Kenosha shootings

The families of Kyle Rittenhouse’s victims said the verdict sent an ‘unacceptable message’, while supporters celebrated outside the courthouse

<p>Kyle Rittenhouse broke down and fell to the ground after being found not guilty on all the charges he faced (image: Getty Images)</p>

Kyle Rittenhouse broke down and fell to the ground after being found not guilty on all the charges he faced (image: Getty Images)

Kyle Rittenhouse has been found not guilty of murder after shooting and killing two people during protests in the US city of Kenosha, Wisconsin in 2020.

He was also acquitted of attempted murder and two counts of recklessly endangering safety.

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The teenager, who killed protesters Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, was essentially deemed by the jury to have acted in self-defence.

Prosecutors had argued the 18-year-old was a reckless vigilante who was at fault for instigating the violence.

The trial has proved divisive in America and protests have broken out across the country.

Kyle Rittenhouse broke down and fell to the ground after being found not guilty on all the charges he faced (image: Getty Images)

What did Kyle Rittenhouse do?

In August 2020, Kenosha was in the grip of racial justice protests following the shooting of a black man - Jacob Blake - by police officers.

Mr Blake survived but was paralysed from the waist down.

This shooting came a matter of months after the killing of George Floyd, which had led to a worldwide reckoning about racism in society.

Kyle Rittenhouse said in his trial that he had gone to the city on 25 August to protect businesses from protesters, after some pockets of violence and looting had broken out.

The man, who was 17-years-old at the time, was seen patrolling with a semi-automatic rifle.

Supporters and opponents of Kyle Rittenhouse gathered outside the Kenosha courthouse where the trial was being held (image: Getty Images)

After a confrontation, Mr Rittenhouse was chased by the first person he shot and killed - Joseph Rosenbaum, 36 - before turning and firing at him.

Mr Rittenhouse then ran from the scene but was chased down by protesters having fallen over.

He shot at and missed one man who appeared to be attempting to confront him, before fatally shooting Anthony Huber, 26, who had hit him with a skateboard.

The teenager then shot Gaige Grosskreutz, 28, in the arm when he approached the stricken shooter holding a gun.

The trial had rested on whether Kyle Rittenhouse had acted in self-defence or had crossed over into vigilantism through his actions.

It was a case that had become a symbol for the debate in the USA over whether people should be allowed to carry a gun.

Protests and celebrations across the USA

The divisive nature of the trial and the deep polarisation felt across America meant there were likely to be protests no matter which way the verdict fell.

In its wake, police declared a riot in Portland, Oregon, after protests turned violent.

Peaceful protests were held in Chicago and New York.

Outside the Kenosha courthouse itself, supporters and opponents of Mr Rittenhouse had been gathering for the three days it took for the jury to make its decision.

However, there were no major incidents.

The family of one of Kyle Rittenhouse’s victims said the verdict sent an ‘unacceptable message’ (image: Getty Images)

What was the reaction to the verdict?

Kyle Rittenhouse burst into tears at the announcement of the verdict, before having to be helped up after having fallen to the floor.

A spokesperson for the Rittenhouse family struck a sombre tone in a statement given to the Reuters news agency.

"We are all so very happy that Kyle can live his life as a free and innocent man,” he said.

“But in this whole situation there are no winners, there are two people who lost their lives and that’s not lost on us at all."

The parents of Anthony Huber said they were "heartbroken" by the verdict.

"It sends the unacceptable message that armed civilians can show up in any town, incite violence, and then use the danger they have created to justify shooting people in the street," they said.

The US political class also delivered their verdicts on the trial’s outcome.

US President Joe Biden said: "While the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included, we must acknowledge that the jury has spoken."

Meanwhile, the political right saw the verdict as a validation of the second amendment of the US Constitution, which grants Americans the right to bear arms.

Republican congressman from North Carolina, Madison Cawthorn, posted on Instagram: "Kyle Rittenhouse is not guilty my friends. You have a right to defend yourselves. Be armed, be dangerous and be moral."

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