The Kyle Rittenhouse acquittal spurred a smattering of protests Friday night around the city, with a handful of protesters arrested in Queens after the NYPD said they vandalized flags, mailboxes, and two police vehicles.
Rittenhouse, who was on trial for killing two men and wounding another during police brutality protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin last summer, was found not guilty of all counts on Friday. Rittenhouse was facing charges of first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide, and two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety after he left his Illinois home on August 25th, 2020, and crossed state lines into Wisconsin with a medical kit to join armed people in the area as anti-police brutality protests raged.
Rittenhouse said during the trial that he went there to serve as a medic and help protect private property with an AR-15 style rifle a Wisconsin friend gave him even though he was only 17 at the time and too young to legally possess the gun. By the end of the night, he had fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz.
One protest Friday evening started at the Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn, with around 350 protesters marching over the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan.
Protesters chanted “This is what community looks like!” and “We stand with Kenosha.”
The message was wide-ranging, with protesters focused on a broad anti-capitalist radicalism and systemic denunciation of racism and remembering many victims beyond Rittenhouse’s victims. Protesters invoked George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Sandra Bland among others.
In Middle Village, Queens, five men were arrested on charges of rioting, criminal mischief, unlawful assembly, and other related charges Friday.
An NYPD spokesperson said around 9 p.m., the men were marching on 58th Road and 76th Street as part of a larger group of about 40 people who were “wearing all black and appeared to be Black Bloc,” the anarchist group. The NYPD spokesperson did not specify why the men were suspected of being Black Bloc.
“The group marched through a residential neighborhood in Middle Village, Queens screaming at the police, Black Lives Matter’ and ‘we don’t go,’” said the NYPD spokesperson.
The group of protesters threw garbage cans into the path of police officers following them and ripped up Blue Lives Matter flags and uprooted mailboxes, according to the NYPD.
The NYPD's twitter account posted two photos of damaged police cars - one with a broken window and one van that had been sprayed with graffiti. An unknown number of parked cars were also damaged, the NYPD spokesperson said.
“The NYPD takes its responsibility to protect the 1st amendment rights of peaceful demonstrators seriously. Just as important is the safety of NYers & the protection of property from people breaking the law in the name of protest. As seen tonight in Queens, they will be arrested,” the police department twitter account said.
Attempts to contact the five arrested men were unsuccessful Saturday. They were issued desk appearance tickets and are due back in court December 9th, according to NYPD.
Update: On Saturday, mayor-elect Eric Adams held a press conference in Middle Village with Queens Councilmember Robert Holden, who said he saw the group passing by his barricaded home. Adams said he was "deeply disturbed and angry" about the vandalism.
"It is one thing to protest at an elected official's office. It's one thing to come to a hearing and voice your concern, but to come to a neighborhood and openly destroy property, be disruptive, throw objects at the residents of the neighborhood -- that is unacceptable in our city. And we are not going to allow this to happen and we need to send a clear message," Adams said. He blamed "outside agitators" that want to "destroy our city and create conflict and tensions between New Yorkers."
Four of the five arrested men are from Brooklyn and the fifth man from New Jersey, according to NYPD.
This article was updated to include mayor-elect Eric Adams's comments at a Saturday news conference.