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After 18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all counts Friday in a case that resulted from the 2020 unrest in Kenosha, Wis., Hollywood was quick to condemn the verdict, while some welcomed it.
Actor Mia Farrow tweeted, "So anyone can come to a protest, just march down the middle of the street with a massive gun — and kill people?"
"#kylerittenhouse found not guilty tho we SAW HIM kill two," wrote singer-actor Bette Midler. "Fundamentally stupid, I predict he will go on to a big career on #Fox and in #RadicalRightWing circles, which counts as a plus with them. A tragic, tragic day for decent, THINKING, feeling, ethical people everywhere."
Late-night host Samantha Bee wrote, "Acquitting Kyle Rittenhouse sends a message to future Kyle Rittenhouses that they're free to incite violence and then claim self-defense. This is not justice."
"In fairness, Kyle Rittenhouse only killed two people. It’s not like he was smoking weed," actor Michael Ian Black snarked.
Actor Yvette Nicole Brown wrote, "The good news is that white men & boys can still kill whoever they want and do NO jail time! Isn’t that fun! And he killed white people! I bet little #KyleRittenhouse is gonna go right out and take some more white power pics with #TheProudBoys & plan his next massacre."
"I wish I was surprised," tweeted actor Colman Domingo. "I know where I live. We keep doing the work. We keep going. We keep demanding that this country bends toward justice. Make it bend. Don’t give up."
Alyssa Milano expressed her disgust, tweeting, "F— NOT GUILTY." In the accompanying video showing the trial on TV, she gasps loudly after the first two verdicts are read and says "Holy. F—. S—" when the jury foreperson is done.
"If a Black kid crossed state lines & shot people, the mostly-white jury would not only hear facts & arguments, but weigh the lifetime of violent images of young Black people they’ve seen in media," comic Hari Kondabolu tweeted. "With Kyle Rittenhouse, it was images of their kids & others they cared about."
"Justice denied is a body blow to our national psyche. On trial was not only a killer, but a system that continues to kill," actor George Takei tweeted. "Today that system defeated true justice, once again. But mark these words: We will never stop fighting for what is right and just."
"Tell me again there are not two kinds justice in America!," actor LeVar Burton wrote.
Actor Rosanna Arquette weighed in, saying, "I have no faith in the justice system In America today I don’t want to live in a country that is ruled by violent ignorant racists."
"kyle rittenhouse being acquitted on all charges after such heinous heinous crimes is the epitome of white privilege and exactly what is wrong with this godforsaken country," wrote actor Rachel Zegler, while actor Emmy Rossum said, "This is a devastating blow."
"Kyle Rittenhouse walks free as we are all taken prisoner by our now openly authoritarian state," actor Ellen Barkin tweeted.
Actor Sophia Bush wrote, "No words. Just utter fury."
"It has now been put it out there that vigilantes can just go and kill people protesting issues like racial equality whenever they want and get away with it," Josh Gad opined. "Think about that for a second."
"Elections matter. The lives of Joseph Rosenbaum & Anthony Huber mattered. They should be alive today," actor Kerry Washington tweeted. "Our 1st amendment right to free speech should not cost any of us our lives. And regardless of anybody’s verdict anywhere and at anytime, Black Lives Do Matter. Today. & always."
Bernice King, youngest child of the late Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, tweeted, "We are traumatized."
"A White teen showed up, at a protest of police brutality against Black people, with an assault rifle and was allowed by police to freely roam an already volatile space," King continued. "This Not Guilty verdict represents a myriad of injustices."
"Did you ever think it was not going to turn out that way?," Broadway star Harvey Fierstein asked another Twitter user. "The judge sat down next to the defendant to watch the evidence! This is why the appointment of judges is so important. If your justices don't respect the law, there is NO law."
"What a disaster," model and actor Brooklyn Decker tweeted. "The precedent is terrifying. The injustice is hard to stomach."
Comic Sarah Cooper tweeted, "I know everyone’s saying if you’re surprised you haven’t been paying attention but I was paying attention and I’m still shocked."
"In other news you could see coming from a mile away....," tweeted actor Daniel Dae Kim.
"We come together to mourn the lives lost to the same racist system that devalues Black lives and devalued the lives of Anthony and JoJo. #ReimagineKenosha," actor Mark Ruffalo said in a series of tweets, mentioning the first names of the two men who were killed in August 2020, Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum.
"After all we have seen and heard about these weapons of war, these killing machines, there is no doubt that people who faced this young man were more afraid of him than he was of them. He was the one with a weapon of war, loaded and ready to be used on people," Ruffalo continued. "Justice weeps bitterly today. We are coming together to heal the scars left by the wounds of this grief. We will care for each other and remember why we continue to march."
Questlove issued a few words of caution aimed at quelling further violence: "Stay Home. Stay Safe."
But actor Matthew Lillard saw a dark future: "Not guilty. Welcome to the Wild f—' West. The violence that is coming will be unprecedented. #godsaveusall"
And director Ava DuVernay passed along a message from the parents of one of the men who was killed, tweeting, "John Huber and Karen Bloom, parents of murderer #KyleRittenhouse’s victim Anthony Huber: the verdict '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.'”
Antioch, Ill., resident Rittenhouse said he was carrying a rifle for protection last year while he attempted to protect property and administer first aid as violent protests against police brutality swept through the city where his father lives. He shot two people dead and wounded another, all of them white. His defense team argued that the shootings were self-defense. The prosecutor contended that he had committed murder.
Rittenhouse, who was 17 when events occurred, faced five charges including intentional homicide and reckless endangerment. A sixth gun charge was dropped before the case went to the jury when it was determined that the weapon he had was legal for a 17-year-old to carry.
Former child actor Rick Schroder, who drew attention to the case when he contributed to Rittenhouse's bail fund a year ago, was silent on his Instagram account immediately after the verdict, but other supporters spoke up.
"Not guilty," actor Kevin Sorbo tweeted.
"I’m laughing! I’m relieved! I’m almost in tears," filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza tweeted. In another post, he wrote, "This is as big as the OJ Simpson verdict, with the important difference that our guy is actually innocent."
Comic and actor Terrence K. Williams told his 1 million Twitter followers, "NOT GUILTY !! Kyle Rittenhouse should sue the crap out of the media for defamation. Don’t Bring a Knife or a Skateboard to a Gun Fight!"
"Those who watched the actual Rittenhouse trial on television should not have been surprised at the not guilty verdict," tweeted star attorney Alan Dershowitz. "But those who got their information about the trial from biased commentators on CNN or CNBC may well have been shocked and surprised."
Cartoonist Scott Adams tweeted, "Trial by a jury your peers is the source of all American power and credibility."
"Well, this jury took the local and not the express," pundit Ann Coulter tweeted, referencing the four days of deliberation, "but at least they got there." Later she added, "I hope [defense attorney] Corey Chirafisi will pursue a defamation case against Biden for calling Rittenhouse a 'white supremacist' during the [presidential] campaign."
And former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a Democratic presidential candidate in 2020, summed up her thoughts, tweeting, "The jury got it right — finding Rittenhouse not guilty on all charges. The fact that charges were brought before any serious investigation is evidence that the government was motivated by politics, which itself should be considered criminal."
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.