Washington DC — Service Employees International Union (SEIU) International President Mary Kay Henry issued the following statement after jurors acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse of the deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber. Rittenhouse shot and killed Rosenbaum and Huber who were protesting the shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha Police:
“SEIU continues to fight for a world where Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and countless others would still be alive and thriving. A world where Black lives matter, where white supremacists are held accountable for the violence they perpetrate, and where people experience true safety and protection, regardless of their skin color or zip code.
“Today’s acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse continues our nation’s legacy of defending white supremacist violence while stereotyping Black and Brown people as criminals. It lays bare the uncomfortable truth that white men protesting the value of Black lives can still skirt accountability for murder with dubious claims of self-defense.
“Until Black people can find justice in our legal system and safety in every neighborhood, we will never have the thriving communities we seek to create. Until Black communities and other communities of color are safe and can thrive, we will have no shared safety, shared prosperity, or shared dignity in this country.
“Certain politicians — and the white nationalist hate groups who support them — are lauding an armed militant, disparaging his victims, and spreading lies about our protests. They hope to stoke hatred and division while cutting resources our communities need to thrive: health care, good schools, and good jobs. We won’t fall for it.
“Institutional racism has been long embedded within our policing and criminal justice system. It has traditionally excused white vigilantism with a dire cost to us all. Sadly, Kyle Rittenhouse’s acquittal indicates that this historical practice continues.
“We mourn with the families of the victims as we mourn the miscarriage of justice.This verdict by a predominantly white jury once again brings to light that our criminal legal system is not designed to serve and protect all of us. We demand structural change and the eradication of the institutional racism that produces different outcomes for people based on the color of their skin. We demand better.
“We stand with the Huber and Rosenbaum families in demanding accountability for those who endangered peaceful protestors and enabled, condoned and supported Rittenhouse. We also demand Officer Shesky be held accountable for brutalizing Jacob Blake.
“We will continue to support SEIU members and our community allies in Kenosha who have worked to heal the community in the wake of this tragedy. We stand with them in their actions to demand structural change by organizing people on the job and in their communities. They are standing up for bold policies that will foster safe neighborhoods for all people no matter what they look like, where they’re from or what they do for a living.
“We know that when we join together across race and difference, we can rethink the role of police and the criminal justice system, and reimagine public safety. We understand that our fates are linked and dismantling structural racism is in all of our self-interest. We believe that until Black communities and other communities of color are safe and can thrive, we will not have justice for all in this country.”