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4 lawmakers call Pritzker's comments on Rittenhouse trial 'beyond reprehensible'

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Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges Friday after pleading self-defense in the deadly Kenosha shootings that became a flashpoint in the debate over guns, vigilantism and racial injustice in the U.S. Rittenhouse, 18, began to choke up, fell forward toward the defense table and then hugged one of his attorneys as he heard a court clerk recite "not guilty" five times. "His eyes were red, he was sort of frozen again for a moment and one of his lawyers leaned over, patted him on the shoulder and told him to breathe, "said Associated Press reporter Michael Tarm. "A very emotional scene."

SPRINGFIELD — Four Central Illinois GOP lawmakers on Monday issued a statement calling Gov. J.B. Pritzker's comments regarding the verdict of Kyle Rittenhouse "beyond reprehensible." 

Pritzker, a Democrat, on Friday in a statement said: "Carrying a loaded gun into a community 20 miles from your home and shooting unarmed citizens is fundamentally wrong. It's a tragedy that the court could not acknowledge that basic fact."

State Reps. Adam Niemerg, R-Dieterich; Brad Halbrook, R-Shelbyville; Dan Caulkins, R-Decatur; and Chris Miller, R-Oakland, on Monday said: "The right of self-defense is a basic right of all Americans regardless of age, race, creed, or gender. To suggest that these rights should be stripped from an individual simply on the basis of perceived political differences is wrong and goes against the values we as Americans hold dear. The reason we have the right to bear arms is because our founding fathers understood the importance of self-defense for a free society and intentionally enshrined this right in our Constitution." 

A Kenosha, Wisconsin, jury on Friday acquitted Rittenhouse, 18, of Antioch, Illinois, on charges stemming from killing two men and wounding another during unrest in 2020, finding he acted in self-defense. 

The lawmakers said: "For the governor to call the verdict into question is reckless and invites more unrest on our city streets and undermines confidence in our judicial system."

Also Monday, Mary Lemanski, social media manager for the Democratic Party of DuPage County, was let go from her position after posting a series of tweets comparing Rittenhouse to the driver of the SUV that sped through barricades and struck dancers, musicians and others during a Waukesha, Wisconsin, Christmas parade.

“It was probably just self-defense #Wisconsin #KyleRittenhouse,” Lemanski tweeted about the tragedy that left five dead and 40 injured.

She followed up the statement, replying to a comment deriding her opinion and saying, “I’m sad. I’m sad anytime anyone dies. I just believe in Karma and this came around quick on the citizens of Wisconsin.”

Ken Mejia-Beal, the chair of the DuPage Democratic Party, said Lemanski was “let go” shortly after he became aware of her comments. She had worked for the party since 2017 or 2018, Mejia-Beal said. She tweeted that she resigned.

“We don’t applaud or celebrate tragedy,” Meija-Beal said. “This was a tragedy. These were folks that were out at a joyous occasion having a great time at a beautiful and festive time of the year. We, as a party, disavow Mary’s Twitter comments, the sentiment behind them. We are with the victims of this tragedy.”

The chairman of the DuPage County Republicans Jim Zay wrote in a statement that he was “shocked and outraged” by Lemanski’s tweets.

“No matter your party affiliation right now all of our thoughts and prayers need to be with those families who lost loved ones and those who are hospitalized that they recover from their injuries,” Zay wrote. “By trying to link one issue to this senseless loss of life during a Christmas parade shows how out of touch and single issued some people can be.”

The Chicago Tribune and Associated Press contributed to this report. 


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