CHICAGO (CBS) — The American Civil Liberties Union on Friday tweeted that the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse amounted to “an outrageous failure to protect protesters” by authorities in Kenosha.

Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges on Friday after his trial for shooting three people, killing two of them in Kenosha last year.

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He had faced five counts, including charges of first-degree reckless homicide, first-degree reckless endangerment, first-degree intentional homicide, and attempted first-degree attempted homicide. He faced up to life in prison had he been convicted.

There was no question Rittenhouse shot anyone, and the trial boiled down to whether he was legitimately acting in self-defense. He had been charged in connection with the shootings of three people in August 2020 during protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz during the widespread civil unrest in Kenosha after Blake was shot by police.

The ACLU reported that police had actually encouraged “white militia members” to become armed vigilantes during the unrest.

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“Months of research and open records requests have uncovered many incidents in which police encouraged white militia members to become armed vigilantes in the street due to their failure to control the crowd,” the ACLU tweeted. “Despite Kyle Rittenhouse’s conscious decision to travel across state lines and injure one person and take the lives of two people protesting the shooting of Jacob Blake by police, he was not held responsible for his actions. Unfortunately, this is not surprising.”

The ACLU further reported its investigation had “exposed how Kenosha law enforcement used violence against protesters and drove them toward white militia groups, in ways that escalated tensions and almost certainly led to these shootings.”

“It is far too easy to overlook the impact that violence in defense of white supremacy has on the Black and Brown communities,” the ACLU tweeted.

The ACLU accused police in Kenosha of enabling “white supremacist militia members” to go up against people who were exercising their First Amendment right to protest against the Jacob Blake shooting.

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“The result of this failure was bloodshed, the loss of lives, and trauma,” the ACLU tweeted. “No one should be targeted, threatened, or attacked for exercising our First Amendment right to protest. It is our right to protest and demand justice. We’ll be watching to ensure no one — including law enforcement — interferes with that right.”

CBS 2 Chicago Staff