Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D) broke from the ranks of the Democratic Party on Friday, offering a reaction to the Kyle Rittenhouse acquittal that countered from the dominate narrative of the Democratic Party.
What did Democrats say?
Democratic politicians and media members overwhelmingly reacted to Rittenhouse being found not guilty by expressing outrage, blaming white supremacy, and claiming such an outcome would have been different had the defendant been black.
President Joe Biden said "the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included."
Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) said every facet of the trial was "white supremacy in action." She reacted, "The judge. The jury. The defendant. It's white supremacy in action. This system isn't built to hold white supremacists accountable. It's why Black and brown folks are brutalized and put in cages while white supremacist murderers walk free."
Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick said the verdict demonstrated the need to "abolish our current system." He said, "We just witnessed a system built on white supremacy validate the terroristic acts of a white supremacist. This only further validates the need to abolish our current system. White supremacy cannot be reformed."
Meanwhile, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo observed, "You're going to have people saying if he was black this would be different, right? Because we're dealing with systemic injustice right now. And even though this verdict, I believe, is justified by the law and the facts here, that's what we should want every time, people are frustrated that you wouldn't get it if he was black even though this may be the right outcome."
What did Gabbard say?
The former Hawaii congresswoman struck a much different tone. Instead, Gabbard highlighted problems she saw with the prosecution, suggesting their actions were politically motivated and should be investigated.
"The jury got it right—finding Rittenhouse not guilty on all charges," Gabbard said. "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."
The jury got it right\u2014finding 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.— Tulsi Gabbard \ud83c\udf3a (@Tulsi Gabbard \ud83c\udf3a) 1637346877
Gabbard is not the only person to question the motivation of prosecutors.
Those who have made such observations point to the fact that prosecutors filed six charges — including first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, and attempted first-degree attempted homicide — against Rittenhouse less than two days after the shooting incident took place amid the violent riots in Kenosha.
Then there is the fact that prosecutors over-charged Rittenhouse. The only non-felony Rittenhouse was charged with was being in possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18. But through a plain reading of the Wisconsin statue, Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder determined Rittenhouse did not violate that law.
Lead prosecutor Thomas Binger was also accused of potentially violating basic constitutional law when he mentioned Rittenhouse's post-arrest silence during cross-examination. Schroeder admonished Binger for the incident. "I was astonished when you began your examination by commenting on the defendant's post-arrest silence," the judge said. "That's basic law."
Rittenhouse's defense team even filed for a mistrial with prejudice after they discovered the prosecution had allegedly withheld potentially exculpatory evidence. Prosecutors, however, claimed they did not withhold the evidence intentionally.
In the end, the charges against Rittenhouse were dismissed with prejudice — because the jury declared him not guilty.