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What officials across Connecticut are saying about the Rittenhouse verdict

Experts, leaders and organizations in Connecticut are reacting to the controversial trial.

HARTFORD, Conn. — Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all charges in connection to shootings during protests in Kenosha, Wis. in 2020. And now, experts and organizations in Connecticut are reacting to the controversial trial and the verdict that resulted from it.

The 18-year-old pleaded self-defense in shootings that killed two and wounded another with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle during a night of protests over police violence against Black people in the summer of 2020. The former police youth cadet is white, as were those he shot.

"This is a 17-year-old who was too young to even buy the weapon he was carrying, yet it was legal for him to carry it openly in an incredibly tense situation," said Mayor Luke Bronin of the City of Hartford.  

RELATED: No, prosecutors can’t appeal the not guilty verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial

A.J. Johnson, Pastor of Urban Hope Refuge Church in Hartford told FOX 61 that for the Black, Indigenous, People of Color communities, there is no shock at all, with history repeating itself.

“We know how this goes. It won’t be until the next person, or the next George Floyd, or the next Sandra Bland. Until we come back and interact with this legal system that does exactly what it does. I think what it does to our communities is just reaffirm what we feel and what we don’t say but feel in our everyday life,” Johnson said.

He also said, "We just want to be seen and viewed as equal as anyone else and have the same opportunities that are extended to other folks as well."

“We have to do the work of justice locally because these cases are going to come and go, and there’s stuff that’s going to happen," Johnson added. "But we who believe in freedom cannot rest.”

VERIFY: Photo of stacked bricks claiming to be planted ahead of Rittenhouse verdict is a 2020 photo from Texas

A criminal justice expert at the University of New Haven weighed in, wondering if the same outcome would have taken place if Rittenhouse was Black.

"If it was turned differently, we don't have a history of this country of seeing people of color with guns getting acquitted. We just don't have that type of history," Dr. Lorenzo Boyd, Stewart Professorship in Criminal Justice and Community Policing at the University of New Haven said. "So to say it was race-based, I don't know we can easily make that case, but I can definitely see where people would say that race is a factor."

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James Bergenn, a criminal defense attorney for Shipman and Goodwin, LLP, said the trial failed to face all of the perspectives and there were some similarities to what happened during O.J. Simpson's trial.

"I can't say it was actually a surprise when I realized how much the jury had to find Rittenhouse's self (defense) convincing. And the prosecutors didn't focus, as the law requires, on his perspective. And then, as trial practitioners know, on the jurors' perspective. They were so excited about their own perspective that they kind of lost their way, and it reminded me of Marsha Clark during the OJ days."

The Connecticut Citizens Defense League (CCDL) applauded the acquittal. CCDL sent a statement to FOX61, saying,

 "This case, which captured the attention of so many Americans, was about more than just the actions of Kyle Rittenhouse. The quintessential concepts of the codified American right to self defense and the core foundation of our Second Amendment was also on trial. We are blessed to live in a nation which ensures a fair trial to be determined by our peers. The CCDL is heartened that the jury decided in favor of Kyle Rittenhouse and our God-given right to self defense. We further extend our most sincere thoughts to the families impacted by the case and have hope for a future where rioting and aggression towards fellow Americans are a thing of the past."

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