NEW ORLEANS — Not guilty and not surprising to Dillard University professor of criminal justice Ashraf Esmail.
“I think the jury really didn't have any other verdict to come up with,” said Esmial. “All you need is a reasonable doubt.”
Watching the trial, Esmail says there was plenty of reasonable doubt. Esmail says video evidence showed self-defense when Kyle Rittenhouse shot three people with a semiautomatic rifle, killing two of them at a black lives matter protest last year.
“It showed that he was attacked, being choked, being chased, rocks were thrown at him, and being fired at,” said Esmail.
“Everyone rushes to judgment as to what the intent was of Kyle Rittenhouse, well what was the intent of all the others,” said WWL Radio show host Newell Normand during his show Friday morning after the verdict came down.
Newell, who’s also a former Jefferson Parish sheriff questioned the foundation of the case.
“I knew, just by the nature of the scene, that evidence was going to continue to surface because there were just so many people there,” said Normand. “I knew that there was going to be a boatload of video that would surface at some point in time and it did, quite frankly, and even video from members of the media that I think actually helped exonerate Kyle Rittenhouse.”
The verdict goes beyond the courtroom, sparking conversations on gun rights, protests, and race.
“Folks are referring to this as racism, I don’t know,” said Normand. “I mean you have a guy and three white guys shot.”
As director of the Center for Racial Justice at Dillard University, Esmail says race is an underlying divide because of where the shootings happened.
“In these protests, especially with race, as we’ve seen over this last year it’s really caused a lot of anger and nerve,” said Esmail. “People feel like, and historically we have seen, the only time things change is when people engage in violence.”
Friday evening Congressman Troy Carter called the verdict evidence of a deeply flawed justice system.
“This verdict is a reminder that we are not a nation where every American is treated with fairness and dignity under law because the law was not made to ensure equal treatment,” said Carter in a released statement.
Esmail says whatever the conversation, viewpoints matter.
“It’s all about narrative, how you create your own narrative in your own mind. That’s how you’re going to perceive it,” said Esmail.
A group of organizations in New Orleans plans to protest the verdict Sunday on the steps of city hall.