(Beaverton, OR) – In the wake of the final verdict in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, Mayor Beaty offers words of solace and solidarity in an open letter to Beaverton.
On August 25, 2020, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse of Antioch, Illinois drove to Kenosha, Wisconsin with the stated intention of providing medical aid and protecting property in the midst of demonstrations that had turned violent. On that night, Rittenhouse shot and killed two people and wounded another at demonstrations over the shooting of Jacob Blake.
What I want us to focus on, and have a community dialogue about, is the proliferation of violence that is plaguing our country. There seems to be a pervasive belief that the way for voices to be heard, the way to protect the country or the community, is to use violence. As a veteran who served in combat, I can attest to the devastating effects of violence on all involved parties, however well-intended or justified.
Sometimes, our criminal justice system works as intended: offenders are caught, charged, proven guilty, and sentenced. Other times, there are breakdowns in the system where technicalities or outright fraud result in the guilty going free, or the innocent being wrongly convicted. In this case as in so many, the verdict is insufficient, and the system seems to work only for those for whom it was built. We cannot ignore the role of race in this trial.
The not guilty verdict does not mean Rittenhouse is innocent. He remains responsible for the deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and for the wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz. A white male (Rittenhouse) drove across state lines to attend a demonstration over the police shooting of a black man (Jacob Blake). His stated intention was not support of Jacob Blake or the Black Community, but rather to preserve property and provide medical aid. Instead of providing life-saving assistance, he took two lives and injured a third, with repercussions felt throughout those families, communities, and indeed the entire country.
I want to echo a statement released by John Huber and Karen Bloom, parents of Anthony Huber, about the verdict: “It sends the unacceptable message that armed civilians can show up in any town, incite violence, and then use the danger they have created to justify shooting people in the street. We hope that decent people will join us in forcefully rejecting that message and demanding more of our laws, our officials, and our justice system." I stand with them. People should be able to peacefully protest without the threat of violence.
As a community, let’s take some time to process this. Then we have to get to work. City Council has heard recommendations related to public safety from our Human Rights Advisory Commission. We still need to talk more about those recommendations and take action. We are in a joint process with Beaverton School District related to School Resource Officers. Kenosha may be over 2,000 miles away but we have work to do right here in Beaverton.
Now that the trial has concluded and a verdict has been reached, I urge everyone to stay in this conversation. Your voice is needed, and I encourage you to have your voice heard through whatever channel you feel is best. If you would like to meet with me, please grab a time. I look forward to hearing from you, and to opportunities for community conversations.
Mayor of Beaverton
For more information, contact the Mayor’s Communications Officer at jchristy@BeavertonOregon.gov