In the wake of the decision by the Governor of Oklahoma to “prayerfully” grant clemency to Julius Jones, an innocent African American man accused of murder, on the condition that Jones “shall not be eligible to apply for or be considered for a commutation, pardon, or parole for the remainder of his life,” a jury in Kenosha, Wisconsin acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse, a White 18-year-old vigilante, of all charges in the killing of two men and wounding another during protests last year. The protests were in response to the unnecessary and inexcusable police shooting of Jacob Blake. The judge who heard the case displayed judicial malpractice and misconduct in his initial framing of the proceedings without shame, prejudicing the jury before they could hear all the evidence. The parallelism of these two decisions is endemic of the flawed American legal system, the bias and prejudice of its actors and it leaves us wondering if there is any hope when the courts and our Congress have been compromised.
While it is not possible to say with any degree of certainty that had Rittenhouse been African American, Latino or Native American he would have been found guilty of any one if not all five charges, the proceedings and the resulting verdict do declare that there is no justice even for White sympathizers who find themselves on the wrong end of a vigilante’s bullet. The Conservative agenda promoting individual rights won in court today. It also won at the ballot box for the Gubernatorial race in Virginia, further eroding the fabric of democracy and the integrity of its stitches of truth. This verdict will only further arm and embolden the ill-intended, literally and figuratively. The public no longer has standing in this Republic because of personal freedoms, even when it comes to taking the life of another, especially if culprit in this case is White.
Let it be known that Gamaliel will continue to fight to dismantle structural racism and illuminate misplaced bias and privileges. We will pray for and stand with all the victims in this case and their families, including Jacob Blake. We will also continue to tirelessly educate and organize the electorate until “justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing
Rev. Dr. John Welch
Chairman, Gamaliel Board of Directors