The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) is outraged by the events taking place in the concurrent trials of Kyle Rittenhouse and the murderers of Ahmaud Arbery. It is once again extremely clear that the state will maintain its investment in fascism, anti-Blackness, and white supremacy. As we mourn the loss of life and look for ways to heal and advocate for justice, the NLG urges members and allies to view these trials as evidence that abolition and transformative justice are as necessary as ever.
As the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse comes to a close, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has authorized 500 Wisconsin Army National Guard troops to go to Kenosha ahead of the final verdict. Rittenhouse, who fatally shot three white protesters participating in an action for Black lives, is currently in the second week of his trial. Judge Bruce Schroeder has already dismissed the gun charge against Rittenhouse, and legal scholars and commentators are anticipating that he will be acquitted of most, if not all, charges. It is increasingly evident that the troops were authorized as a preemptive response to anti-racist protests.
At the same time, the three white men who murdered Ahmaud Arbery last summer are on trial in Georgia. Last week, the defense attorney struck eight Black potential jurors, leaving a final jury of 11 white people and only one Black person from a juror pool that was 25% Black. Though the exact outcome of this trial is not yet certain, the proceedings themselves were heavily influenced by the legal system’s decision to protect whiteness, claiming that Black jurors were biased in a case that depends exclusively on believing that three white men were threatened enough by a Black man on a run to be genuinely acting in self-defense.
In stark contrast, the judge in the Rittenhouse trial refused to allow the court to address the bias of a far-right videographer who was testifying. As NLG National Vice President Jilisa Milton wrote in an article on Arbery’s murderers’ almost all-white jury, “the criminal justice system remains in a compromising position when one of its own actors is on trial.”
As an organization working in service of liberation, the NLG echoes the demands for proper accountability for these murders. As an abolitionist organization, the NLG also recognizes that the justice system will not go against the interests of white supremacy and fascism, nor will prison adequately address the violence of white supremacists. Instead, we look to the political and social vision of liberationists advocating for the abolition of the systems that create and maintain this violence.
We extend our sincerest condolences and empathy to the people who were and are harmed by the actions of those on trial. We will keep fighting for a system that genuinely and thoroughly addresses the violence of anti-Blackness, fascism, and white supremacy.
Featured image: Abolish the Police by Bart Everson / CC BY 2.0
Note: The initial version of this statement inaccurately said that Rittenhouse is expected to be sentenced this week. We have updated it accordingly and apologize for the falsehood.