The Slatest

NAACP President on Rittenhouse Verdict: “A Warning Shot That Vigilante Justice Is Allowed”

In this screengrab, CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, NAACP, Derrick Johnson speaks during the "United We Serve" a celebration of the national MLK Day of Service on January 18, 2021.
In this screengrab, CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, NAACP, Derrick Johnson speaks during the “United We Serve” a celebration of the national MLK Day of Service on January 18, 2021. Handout/Getty Images

NAACP President Derrick Johnson said that the Kyle Rittenhouse trial amounted to a “warning shot” for Black communities across the country that “vigilante justice is allowed.” At least “in particular communities,” he said in an interview on CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday, days after Rittenhouse was found not guilty on Friday on all charges. Johnson said it’s particularly difficult for Black Americans to accept the verdict in the trial when it represents such a huge contrast with their own experiences with the justice system.

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“It’s hard for African-Americans to reconcile what we witnessed in that trial. We have far too many individuals sitting in jail for crimes they didn’t commit or overcharged for crimes that were committed,” Johnson said. He added that the “current political environment” in general and former President Donald Trump’s administration “opened the door” for the case to be seen along political lines. The only way progress can be made, he added was to have “mature politicians willing to stand up, regardless of political affiliations, and address the question of mob violence, vigilantism, but more importantly, the underlying issue of race in this country.”

Johnson is hardly the only person warning about a possible increase in vigilante justice following the Rittenhouse verdict. The Wisconsin State Journal wrote in an editorial Saturday that the verdict is “sure to embolden militant people who seek to take the law into their own hands.” The paper also warned that it “could increase and complicate self-defense claims if more people carry—and use—firearms in the streets.”

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