The Milwaukee Bucks led the sports world last year when they refused to play a game in protest of the police-involved shooting of Jacob Blake, and some Bucks reacted Friday to the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict.
Jurors in Kenosha, Wisconsin, found Rittenhouse not guilty on all counts, capping an intense trial that followed the deadly unrest in that city last summer. Rittenhouse, 18, would have faced a mandatory life sentence if found guilty and convicted of first-degree intentional homicide.
Kyle Rittenhouse, left, listens as his attorney, Mark Richards, gives his closing argument during Rittenhouse’s trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. (Sean Krajacic/Kenosha News/Pool via USA TODAY NETWORK)
Rittenhouse shot and killed two men and wounded a third during the protests following the Blake shooting. The Bucks played an instrumental part in organizing a protest. Their demonstrations led to more across the entire sports spectrum. On Friday, Bucks forward Khris Middleton and coach Mike Budenholzer were among those from the organization who spoke out.
“We talked about it a little as a team,” Middleton said. “Speaking for myself, it’s definitely disappointing, but at the same time, it really wasn’t surprising about the verdict. I watched it a little bit, was able to keep up with it. It’s something that I think we’ve all seen over and over again.”
Milwaukee Buck Khris Middleton (22) drives to the basket against the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Luguentz Dort during the second half Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)
Budenholzer said before the team’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder he will still push for the betterment of the country.
“Hoping for improvement. Organizationally, just continue to fight for social justice, for better. But at the same time, have to abide by the jury and the decision and the verdict and continue to fight for better,” Budenholzer said, via ESPN.
Milwaukee Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer reacts to a call during a February 2021 game against the Toronto Raptors in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)
The verdict came on the fourth day of deliberations and 15th day of the trial. Jurors deliberated for a total of 26 hours and found Rittenhouse not guilty on five counts including first-degree reckless homicide, two counts of first-degree intentional homicide and two counts of first-degree reckless endangerment. Judge Bruce Schroeder had previously dismissed two additional counts related to Rittenhouse’s weapon.
Fox News’ Audrey Conklin and the Associated Press contributed to this report.