After Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted last week in the fatal shootings of three anti-police brutality protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, about 100 activists showed up Saturday to Clark Park in Southwest Detroit to rail against what they see is an unfair justice system in the U.S.
Tristan Taylor is an organizer with social justice group Detroit Will Breathe. He says the verdict is another example of the current political system being broken, and President Biden’s endorsement of the criminal justice system is not what people voted for last November. After the verdict, President Joe Biden said, “The jury system works, and we have to abide by it.”
“Black people’s oppression is a result of capitalism needing our labor, which has been absolutely central in the destruction and maintenance of this country. And because of that power, that’s why systematic racism exists.” —Tristan Taylor, Detroit Will Breathe
“I think it also shows the out-of-touch character of the whole institution that is the Democratic Party, in particular Joe Biden, who’s more concerned about making sure those institutions maintain their authority than he is about justice,” Taylor says.
He says he wasn’t surprised by the verdict. He believes that it’s not just the justice system that is broken.
“Black people’s oppression is a result of capitalism needing our labor, which has been absolutely central in the destruction and maintenance of this country. And because of that power, that’s why systematic racism exists.”
George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police officer Derek Chauvin was a flashpoint. Detroit Will Breathe protested for 100 consecutive days, enduring beatings and arrests along the way. Most of the charges and a countersuit by the city were dropped later. Although the movement has waned a bit in the months since, the group has grown to become one of the largest organizing groups in the region.
It’s unclear if the teenager being found not guilty on all charges will be a similar flashpoint like the police killing of Floyd. Rittenhouse has been celebrated as a folk hero by Republicans and far-right extremists like the Proud Boys following the incident.
Taylor says protesting in the streets is just one way to change a system that is inherently discriminatory against Black people.
“In the end that’s the only way we’re going to get justice is if we take it … being in the streets but more importantly we take it by shutting down the institutions that we work in.”
He says the rallies and protests will be worth it — eventually.
“There is hope to have. It just requires a lot of work, unfortunately — but liberation is worth it.”
Longtime anti-fascism activist Cindy Luiz says those who stand for equity and inclusion should band together.
“Instead of snarking and sniping at each other and being divided by identities — people should be working to unite everyone from every part of society who can be united in the fight against oppression and injustice.”
There were no counter protesters at the rally, nor any violence.
Listen: Detroit Will Breathe’s Tristan Taylor on the long-term perspective of fighting for justice.