CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Reaction was mixed in Corpus Christi Friday to the not-guilty verdict for Wisconsin teenager Kyle Rittenhouse.
In August of 2020, there was unrest in the streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin after police shot an African American man in the back seven times, but no officer was charged with a crime.
Rittenhouse claimed he was concerned protests would turn violent and that he went out while carrying an assault-style rifle to protect businesses and other property from destruction.
He ended up shooting three people — killing two of them.
Rittenhouse testified that he was acting in self-defense, and on Friday, the jury returned the not-guilty verdict.
"For the court to find this young man not guilty on anything, it’s really quite disturbing for me," said Adam Carrington, prominent member of the Corpus Christi African American community and Pastor of Brooks A.M.E. Worship Center.
He believes, had he himself been in Rittenhouse's shoes as a black man, he would have been sent to prison — or worse.
"I know if I had carried an automatic weapon at the same place at the same time, the outcome probably would have been a whole lot different for me,” Carrington said.
Others say the big issue in the Rittenhouse trial wasn't race, but gun rights.
“I’m very happy with the verdict," local Second Amendment advocate and Mathis resident Israel Salinas said. "I think that justice has been served."
While he agrees with the verdict, he urges anyone who carries guns in public to not use them in an "aggressive manner."
"Firearms, when you’re carrying them around — whether it’s a rifle or it is a pistol — you’re having it there only if you need it in an self defense situation," Salinas said.
On Friday night, NAACP Corpus Christi President Jeremy Coleman released a statement on the Rittenhouse verdict.
"“The verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse case is a travesty and fails to deliver justice on behalf of those who lost their lives as they peacefully assembled to protest against police brutality and violence.” By Derek Johnson National President & CEO
The Justice system must reflect the facts and deliver results that are not based on race. The NAACP strongly supports human rights and the right for peaceful protests. It’s necessary to note that any individual who seeks to harm the forward movement and progress should be accountable for killing a person(s); the system is and was designed for victims.
Our vision is to ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights and there is no racial hatred or racial discrimination."