Opinions in downtown Antioch reflect polarity of Rittenhouse verdict

Some whooped, others shook their heads in downtown Antioch Friday after a Kenosha jury found Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty on all counts in the shooting deaths of two men and the wounding of a third.

Opinions in downtown Antioch -- where Rittenhouse lived at the time of the shootings -- reflected the mixed emotions the polarizing case has drawn across the country.

Many people interviewed Friday voiced strong opinions about the verdict, but would not let their names be used. Better that way than to face potential fallout, they said.

However, those who spoke with the Daily Herald agreed the jury carefully considered the evidence presented during the trial about what happened in Kenosha in August of 2020. Here’s what a few had to say:

• Anthony Darnell, Lake in the Hills

“Everybody has a right to bear arms, I understand that. But it would be like me walking into this (Jewel Food Store) parking lot with my weapons. Somebody along the line is going to have enough presence to confront you and then it’s going to escalate from there.”

Darnell said there should have been some charge regarding the weapon.

“The jury worked with what they had, with what they were presented,” he said.

In that sense, he added, the verdict was correct.

“I put it on the prosecutors -- they did a lousy job,” Darnell said.

• Laura Foster, Antioch

“I yelled out loud ‘whoop, whoop’ when I was in my car and honked my horn,” said Foster, the owner of Ms. Peddler’s Boutique. She’s lived in town since 1983.

“I was hoping it was not guilty because I felt it was a clear-cut case of self-defense,” she said. “Two lives were lost. That’s awful, but I don’t think he did it with intent.”

The length of the deliberations showed the jury “really thought about it,” adding the questions weren’t whether Rittenhouse should have been in Kenosha or had a gun.

“This is fundamental -- you have a right to defend yourself,” she said. “I’m glad they decided on the facts.”

She was among business owners who boarded their windows last year after Rittenhouse was arrested and potential threats of unrest surfaced.

“Nothing, thank God, came of it.”

• Danielle Porter, Harvard

“I disagree with them letting him go,” said Porter, who was working the counter across the street at Village Mercantile. “I didn’t like it. He definitely needs to pay for what he did.”

Porter said Rittenhouse was provoking trouble by bringing a gun to Kenosha.

“I’m really just kind of sad he didn’t get convicted and I’m sad for the families of the people who were lost,” she said. “They didn’t get justice.”

• Kyle Cramer, Brighton, Wisconsin

“I definitely agree with the verdict. I think it’s sad he stood trial for a cut-and-dry self-defense case,” said Cramer, a contractor working on a building in downtown Antioch.

Cramer contended government officials were late to address the unfolding situation in Kenosha and tied the hands of police.

“I have nothing against people who want to protest, but that was a riot,” he said. “It shouldn’t have taken four days of deliberation, but in my opinion but I definitely think they got it right.”

• James Wychers, Wilmot, Wisconsin

“I wasn’t surprised. From what I know of what happened at the trial -- the evidence presented and from what I’d seen -- it sounded like self-defense to me,” he said, while taking a break after work at The Little Bean Coffee Company.

“I think they considered the evidence they had and made the determination they did based on the evidence, which is what everyone should hope they would do.”

• Debbie Winkler, Antioch

“We just had a group of ladies from Kenosha this morning who said, ‘We want to be anywhere except Kenosha,’” said Winkler, who owns Village Mercantile and Rustic and Reclaimed Market, where she was working Friday.

“They were afraid of the looting. They decided to leave town for the day.”