At a downtown protest Saturday in response to the Kyle Rittenhouse not-guilty verdict, speakers said people across race lines can show up to affect change.
Representatives from Louisville Showing Up For Racial Justice (LSURJ) planned the demonstration outside the courthouse downtown.
Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all charges Friday. He shot three people who were protesting the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha last year. Of the three people he shot, two died and one survived. His defense successfully argued Rittenhouse fired in self-defense.
The “Reject the Verdict” rally featured a number of speakers from social justice organizations as well as political leaders.
Speakers challenged white people to speak up about social injustices, especially those surrounding race.
“I see these signs that say ‘End white violence,’” said Rev. Lori Kyle with Louisville SURJ Faith. “If ever there was a time to step into the truth of these words, it is now.”
She went on to add that the protests in Louisville over the police shooting death of Breonna Taylor in 2020 served as an awakening for some and that the energy from that movement should not go away.
“Let that only be an awakening for us because clearly, my friends, the work continues,” Kyle said.
Mayoral candidate Shameka Parrish-Wright said it will take people of all races to move forward.
“Our nation is in despair and the injustices that are happening with our legal system and how it’s used to continue to bully and to oppress people. We must all stand up together. We cannot continue to let this happen,” said Parrish-Wright.
She said she believes white people think Black people want revenge, but she disagrees.
“We’re asking for equality, we’re asking for justice, we’re asking for fairness. We’re demanding it,” Parrish-Wright said.
State Rep. Attica Scott focused on how she and other Black legislators are always expected to have responses to these kinds of incidents while their white colleagues are not.
She said the Rittenhouse verdict “broke” her son.
“Not because he had hope. This system doesn’t grant hope to Black boys like him, Black men like him,” Scott said. “But because [this decision]was expected and the system lived up to his expectations. And that broke him.”
Scott said that despite dealing with the personal impact of this verdict, she and others can’t stop fighting.
“Despite it all, despite the hurt and the pain, we keep going,” Scott said.
Correction: A previous version of this story said Louisville Standing Up For Racial Justice organized the protest. The organization’s name is Louisville Showing Up For Racial Justice.