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Oregon, Portland elected officials react to Kyle Rittenhouse not-guilty verdict

The not-guilty verdict of Kyle Rittenhouse drew a reaction from a number of Oregon officials and Portland city leaders.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The not-guilty verdict of Kyle Rittenhouse drew a reaction from a number of Oregon officials and Portland city leaders Friday. 

Rittenhouse, 18, was acquitted on all charges Friday after pleading self-defense in shootings that left two dead and a third wounded during protests in Kenosha, Wisc. following the deadly police shooting of a Black man in August 2020. He faced the possibility of life in prison. 

"Some people may be hurting hearing this verdict today," Gov. Kate Brown tweeted. "Please take care of each other in this difficult moment. We have a lot of work to do as a country in building a more just and equitable future."

Sen. Jeff Merkley tweeted that Rittenhouse's trial "highlights two big ongoing problems: structural racism ingrained in every system in our country and violent extremists who seek out conflict and know they can get away with it. We’ve got a lot of work to do on both."

Rittenhouse, then 17, traveled from his home in Antioch, Illinois, to Kenosha after businesses in the city were ransacked and burned over the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot and seriously injured by a white police officer. 

During a protest, Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, Anthony Huber, 26, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, now 28. He had been charged with homicide, attempted homicide and reckless endangering.

Each member of the Portland City Council released a statement in opposition to Friday's verdict. 

Mayor Ted Wheeler: "I join with many Portlanders and Oregonians in feeling profoundly disappointed on the Rittenhouse trial verdict. Our work to reform and improve the criminal justice system must continue."

Commissioner Carmen Rubio: "Today, I’m sad, disappointed, and upset. Once again, we find ourselves confronting the cold reality that, unless we change the rulebook, the outcomes will remain the same within our justice system. I mourn not only Kyle Rittenhouse’s victims, and the victims of all racist violence, but also our country’s continued unwillingness to confront the reality that our communities face on a daily basis. Changing entrenched systems is long, hard work, but we have a generation of leaders working hard right now in our cities, states, and nationwide. So today, I hope we will not allow this to drag us into the dredges of despair. Our work continues in the face of this and other injustices, with love for all, and determination. Do not be discouraged."

Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty: "We have an injustice system in America."


Commissioner Dan Ryan: "Today’s verdict on the murders in Kenosha are a tragic reminder of how deeply flawed our criminal justice system is. There is one system of justice for white people and a completely different system for Black, Brown, and Indigenous people in America. My heart is with the families of the victims and all those who experience injustice every day."

Commissioner Mingus Mapps: "I have a heavy heart today. The verdict in Wisconsin reinforces the legitimate grievance of a double standard of how laws are applied based on race. This grievance is exactly why people took to the streets last year."

Other elected officials in the state tweeted their reactions to their verdict: 

Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek: "A white teen, Kyle Rittenhouse, armed himself, crossed state lines, and killed two people. I’m outraged by this verdict and deeply concerned about the dangerous precedent it perpetuates for our country."

Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt: To the victims, who are grappling with the loss of two lives and who testified as our Country watched, thank you for your courage. The work to reform our criminal justice system is evident, it is urgent and I am here for it.

Hours after the verdict, the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office declared a riot outside the Justice Center in downtown Portland after people broke windows and vandalized buildings while protesting the verdict.

Earlier on Friday, Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said police were preparing for the possibility of unrest in response to the verdict, including calling in officers from different precincts and jurisdictions to assist with the response. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story will be updated.

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