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Appleton, WI: Students, community members protest Rittenhouse verdict

By Audari Tamayo |
November 27, 2021
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Appleton, WI - Minutes after the verdict was reached by the jury on the afternoon of November 19, Appleton Students for a Democratic Society called an emergency action in response to the vigilante murderer Kyle Rittenhouse being wrongfully acquitted of all charges. Appleton SDS was joined by Sunrise Fox Valley, students, members of the community, along with comrades from FRSO, United Action Oshkosh, and Food Not Bombs in the rally against the Rittenhouse verdict. Many members of these groups were present during Kenosha’s uprising last year following Jacob Blake’s attempted murder by a white policeman, Rusten Sheskey. Nearly 40 people showed up for the emergency action.

The rally began at Lawrence University’s Main Hall Green, four hours after the verdict, with rousing speeches from Appleton SDS Chair Terrence Freeman and Co-chair Gustavo Zuniga, followed by Anders Hanhan, chair of Sunrise Fox Valley. The speeches touched on the discrepancies between trials of white racists and trials of Black and brown people, the inherently unjust judicial system, and the need for the people to rise in action.

“Outraged but not surprised,” said Freeman of SDS, echoing the feelings of those present.

Zuniga, also of SDS stated, "It gives the precedent for these right-wing vigilantes to target whoever they see to be a danger to them - that is usually people of color and people who are protesting their movement.”

Anders Hanhan, of Sunrise Fox Valley concluded with an assessment of the system: “We have a criminal injustice system, instead of a criminal justice system.”

The double standard in this so-called justice system is not hard to miss; a reactionary murderer was able to go home, while protesters in the streets of Kenosha were taken into unmarked cars and while Black and brown people have their lives taken away.

“There is no social or political freedom here for Black and brown people. Racist pigs like Rittenhouse can always uphold the facade of victimhood and expect protection and sympathy from our inherently unjust legal system. What does this tell us? It tells us what we’ve known all along - that Justice lies in the streets! Justice lies in the people’s movement. That is a fact!” said Freeman.

To conclude his speech, Freeman said, “We have to stop allowing police departments to use white supremacists as a tool to repress the people’s movement! Let us stand up, let us fight back! Dare to struggle, dare to win!”

After the speeches, the protesters gathered alongside College Avenue, holding up signs and chanting things like, “We want justice, we want it now! If we don’t get it, shut it all down!” and “Boots, boots on the ground, we’re here, we’re here to burn this s--t down,” a stark reminder to those listening that reform will not change this system.

The protesters then marched down to Houdini Plaza, chanting even more vigorously than before and letting the greater Appleton community know that the protesters are in solidarity with Kenosha, as Gustavo Zuniga stated. The protesters in Appleton did not let the threat of reactionaries nor the cold weather stand in the way of their pursuit for justice.

At Houdini Plaza, the protest was met with supporters and antagonists, but the people were not deterred and continued on chanting demanding justice and demanding systematic change. Expressed by one of their many chants: “Indict, convict, send Rittenhouse to jail, the whole damn system is guilty as hell!”

After the protesters echoed their voices throughout Appleton’s downtown, they then returned to Lawrence University. They marched past the original starting point, Main Hall Green, going instead to the university’s busy campus center for their message to be heard by as many people as possible. At the campus center a final call to action was made by all, “Stand up, fight back!”