BPDA Statement on the Kyle Rittenhouse Verdict

WASHINGTON (November 23, 2021) — The Black Public Defender Association Executive Director & Board Chair Heather Pinckney issued the following statement in response to the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict:

“The Kyle Rittenhouse verdict serves as a reminder that a system will never fail those that it was designed to protect.

The American criminal legal system was built for individuals like Kyle. The system provided him coverage, protection, and impunity from his vigilante shooting spree on August 25, 2020. 

From the moment he stepped into that Courtroom, the jury chose to see Kyle as an innocent, vulnerable young victim. They ignored his traveling across state lines, his carrying of assault rifles, and his interjection in a protest that had nothing to do with him. This luxury of presumed innocence is never afforded to Black and Brown clients, who instead are viewed as dangerous, aggressive, and consistently violent. Kyle Rittenhouse was given the privilege to walk toward police with a rifle in his hand, while everyday Black men and women are shot for daring to even put their hands up. In the end, the jury chose to believe that his coming to the state of Wisconsin, armed and confrontational, and then murdering two people and injuring one, was justified. 

This verdict once again shows that the criminal legal system consistently enforces white supremacy. We must break up and dismantle the system for racial justice to prevail.”


The Black Public Defender Association aims to improve the quality of defense provided to low-income communities across the United States by creating and maintaining a national network of skilled Black public defenders that identify with and are committed to the populations they serve.