By Jasmine Payoute

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Kyle Rittenhouse is a free man tonight. A jury has cleared him of killing two people and wounding a third during a protest in Wisconsin in the summer of 2020.

Leaders across our region are voicing their opinions on the Rittenhouse verdict.

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The shootings may have happened in Kenosha, Wisconsin but people in Philadelphia feel the trial could have a local and long-lasting impact.

“It’s a horrible thing all around,” one man said.

It was a controversial case with a decision that’s getting an even stronger reaction as Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all five felony charges.

“It wasn’t all that surprising given the way the laws are written,” a man said. “It appears that the verdict may be correct, not that the situation was.”

Here in Philadelphia, the decision weighed heavy on the hearts of local leaders.

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“I am saddened and I am angry and I think I represent so many people. That is the epitome of white privilege,” said Andrea Custis, president and CEO of the Urban League of Philadelphia.

Custis says while no Black people were directly involved, this was a clear sign of racial inequality.

“You have said to this Black community in Philadelphia ‘please don’t forget that we have two judicial systems again — one for Black folks and one for white folks.’ And this was absolutely an affirmation of it today,” Custis said.

A key point in Rittenhouse’s case was driving home that he acted in self-defense. The Philadelphia NAACP worries it’s a claim some will make at local peaceful protests.

“We’re trying to bring fairness to communities and right now, when there’s a verdict like this, you don’t see that happening,” NAACP Philadelphia President Catherine Hicks said.

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Pennsylvania State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta tweeted that this was not justice.

Jasmine Payoute