Our fight for justice is not over

“Where is our power?” asked Detroit Will Breathe organizer Praveen Loganathan.

“In the streets!” the crowd sang.

About 80 people came to a rally in Clark Park, held by Detroit Will Breathe, wearing both warm jackets and signs, on Saturday afternoon to protest the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, who was charged with a shooting in the two Black Lives Matter protesters killed and wounded Another.

No police or counter-demonstrators were present during the rally, which was a peaceful call to action.

“It breaks my heart to see that our ongoing calls for acceptance in this country, socially, economically and in court, fall on deaf ears,” said event organizer Allen Dennard, a musician. “Letting a 17-year-old murderer run unscathed for killing BLM protesters is a direct attack and a middle finger on the existence of blacks in this nation.”

In August 2020, Jacob Blake was shot dead by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, sparking protests against racism and police brutality. There, the then 17-year-old Rittenhouse shot two men, Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and wounded another, Gaige Großkreutz, with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

Rittenhouse faced five counts, including ruthless homicide and attempted willful homicide, and pleaded not guilty on all counts in January. The trial consisted of eight days of testimony, including from Rittenhouse himself, who claimed to have acted in self-defense.

Now he’s running free.

Vickie Edwards holds a sign as she attends a Detroit Will Breathe rally in Clark Park on November 20, 2021 in response to Kyle Rittenhouse's verdict.

Rittenhouse’s decision is just the latest example of racial injustice in the legal system, said Lloyd Simpson, an organizer of Detroit Will Breathe.

“I wasn’t surprised, I’m angry,” said Simpson. “I’m always mad at a system that perpetuates this type of violence. But to be honest, it has happened so many times, we live in a world where this is the norm and so I have no extreme emotions attached to the outcome of this judgment because it turned out to be what I expected would have.”

Members of Detroit Will Breathe say they are still on charges of leading marches sparked by the Minneapolis Police Department’s 2020 murder of George Floyd. The organization protested for more than 80 days that summer.

Detroit police arrested hundreds of demonstrators during the marches, including members of Detroit Will Breathe. On June 2, 2020, law enforcement officers arrested 127 protesters, according to earlier reports by the Free Press. Another 44 were arrested on August 23, 2020.

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“There are two systems of justice: one for those who maintain white supremacy through white vigilante justice, and one for blacks and those who defend their lives,” Simpson said.

About 80 people gathered for a rally in Detroit's Will Breathe in Clark Park on November 20, 2021 in response to Kyle Rittenhouse's verdict.

Loganathan said the fact that Rittenhouse got away with it sends a message that they too can shoot people in protest.

“The courts are not about justice, the courts are about suppressing more and more black and brown life in America,” he said. “I’ve spent a lot of time in court with my friends who are charged with crime just for walking the damn streets. They didn’t break windows or steal shoes. They didn’t do anything but walk in the streets, and they resisted arrest and disrupted the peace. (Rittenhouse) had a bloody weapon. And that’s just the beginning, he’s a signal for everyone else. “

The activists talked about how the road to change, to revolution, is not through the courts and the system as it exists today, but through their own power.

Detroit organizer Will Breathe Tristan Taylor said oppressed people must escape dependence on the Democratic Party, noting that a Democratic politician appointed the judge to lead the Rittenhouse trial.

“Our power as an oppressed people does not come from simply being oppressed. The oppression of blacks is the result of capitalism, which needs our labor, which was absolutely central in building and maintaining this country, ”he said to a cheering crowd. And because of that power, there is systematic racism. They know that we can shut down or take over the system, so they are even willing to do really controversial (expletive) like setting free a murderer to keep that oppression going. “

Capitalism and the oppression of people of color are linked, he said, and the masses must take control of their power and fate.

Protesters said the Rittenhouse decision is evidence that much remains to be done to achieve true justice.

About 80 people gathered for a rally in Detroit's Will Breathe in Clark Park on November 20, 2021 in response to Kyle Rittenhouse's verdict.

“We don’t let ourselves be downed because the masses have power,” Dennard said. “The people have power. And we have to keep fighting … this fight is a very long fight, it will be extended, because with this judgment we know that there is so much to be done. And it breaks my heart that we are still here today. All these battles our ancestors went through won’t be in vain. We won’t stand because we’re out here today and we won’t take it. “

Contact Emma Stein: [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @_emmastein.

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