About 100 protestors gathered outside the Ohio Statehouse to protest the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse Friday.
Rittenhouse, who was 17 years old at the time, killed two people and injured one additional person at a summer 2020 protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse was cleared of all charges Friday afternoon.
Columbus’ Party for Socialism and Liberation organized the protest, stating in an event flyer that today’s verdict “adds another chapter to the violent, racist history of the US judicial system.”
The demonstration began in front of the Ohio Statehouse, where speakers expressed disapproval of the jury’s verdict before marching around the Statehouse, chanting “indict, convict, send the killer kid to jail.”
Z Tenney, the diversity, equity and inclusion officer of the College of Pharmacy, said Columbus is marketed as a progressive city, one that offers opportunity. However, Tenney said police violence against Black Columbus residents — especially those who are unarmed — suggests such opportunity is not equal for all.
“While Columbus has not gotten the same kind of national press as the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, we still have a lot of the exact same issues,” Tenney said.
Tenney said vigilantes like Kyle Rittenhouse, who are typically heavily armed, were the source of violence in summer 2020 protests in Columbus.
Kathryn Finneran, a masters student in environment and natural resources, said she is disappointed but not surprised with the outcome of the Rittenhouse trial. She also attended summer 2020 protests over the killing of George Floyd, and said it’s white peoples’ responsibility to protest — through the cold and the pandemic — in the face of injustice.
She hopes that people get to know each other at the protest, and get a sense for the organizing power of the anti-fascist community in Columbus.
“It is not completely hopeless,” Finneran said. “To be hopeless in the face of all of this is really a distinct privilege.”
Jessica Orozco and Jessica Langer contributed reporting
Correction: This story previously stated that protesters gathered in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in summer 2020 to protest the killing of George Floyd. The story has been updated to reflect that the protest was following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.