President Joe Biden released a statement Friday on the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, who was charged after killing two rioters and injuring a third in acts of self-defense during riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year. In his statement, Biden called for unity after calling the teen a “white supremacist” last year.
The following is the president’s full statement:
While the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included, we must acknowledge that the jury has spoken. I ran on a promise to bring Americans together, because I believe that what unites us is far greater than what divides us. I know that we’re not going to heal our country’s wounds overnight, but I remain steadfast in my commitment to do everything in my power to ensure that every American is treated equally, with fairness and dignity, under the law.
I urge everyone to express their views peacefully, consistent with the rule of law. Violence and destruction of property have no place in our democracy. The White House and Federal authorities have been in contact with Governor Evers’s office to prepare for any outcome in this case, and I have spoken with the Governor this afternoon and offered support and any assistance needed to ensure public safety.
Last year, then-presidential candidate Joe Biden smeared Rittenhouse as a white supremacist in an official campaign advertisement.
Biden had shared the ad on Twitter, writing last year, “There’s no other way to put it: the President of the United States refused to disavow white supremacists on the debate stage last night.”
After the verdict on Friday, lawmakers condemned Biden’s comments on Rittenhouse.
“Don’t forget, Biden labeled a 17-year old Rittenhouse a ‘white supremacist.’ Beyond shameful,” Rep. Dan Bishop of North Carolina tweeted.
Sen. Tom Cotton took his criticism a step further and called on the president to apologize to Rittenhouse.
“Joe Biden needs to publicly apologize to Kyle Rittenhouse,” Cotton tweeted.
Like Cotton, Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado called for an apology from Biden.
“Joe Biden owes Kyle Rittenhouse a public apology,” Buck tweeted.
Texas Rep. Lance Gooden also criticized President Biden’s defamatory remarks, tweeting, “Kyle Rittenhouse has been slandered and defamed by the fake news media, ‘woke’ celebrities, Big Tech giants, and powerful Democrat politicians including Joe Biden. But they failed to convict him. Because Justice and TRUTH still matter in this country. For now. Congrats Kyle!”
On August 25, 2020, the then 17-year-old armed with an AR-15 rifle shot multiple rioters who attacked him, killing two and wounding one. The jury determined that Rittenhouse was acting in self-defense.