The news out of Wisconsin on Friday morning was not shocking or surprising. Considering the disposition of the judge and the political climate in America, the verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial was widely anticipated by those familiar with American history.
Like Warriors coach Steve Kerr, a longtime advocate for civil rights and stricter gun laws.
“It wasn’t a shocking verdict,” he said Friday afternoon in Detroit, before tipoff against the Pistons. “But it’s one that poses great risk going forward if we continue to go down this path with “open carry” and states determining that people – even underage people – can carry weapons of war.
“This is America. We’re treading down a dangerous path.”
Rittenhouse was found not guilty despite traveling across state lines with an assault rifle, carrying into a crowd protesting the shooting of an unarmed Black man by a white police officer and opening fire, killing two people and wounding a third.
The jury in Kenosha, Wis. accepted as credible beyond a reasonable doubt that an armed 17-year-old could claim self-defense in the August 2020 shooting.
Reaction to the verdict was, of course, sharply divided.
Some right-wing politicians cheered, hailing Rittenhouse as a hero – really – with some even talking of offering an internship.
Others were deeply disappointed, seeing it as another example of the judicial power of white privilege.
Kerr, whose father was assassinated 37 years ago in Beirut, continues to rue the presence of guns in a country 245 years after it was founded on violence that has yet to abate.
“The thing that I’m most concerned about is gun laws in this country,” Kerr said. “The fact that we are seemingly OK with a teenager’s right to take an AR-15 into an area where there is civil unrest, that’s really scary and concerning.
“But this is where we are with gun laws. This is why we have to have safer gun laws in place. To protect ourselves. To protect each other.”
Kerr was among many sports figures, including race driver Bubby Wallace and NBA star Ja Morant, to react by expressing disgust via social media.