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Town Hall

In Wednesday's print edition of The News-Gazette, African American community members weigh in on the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict.

“What if Kyle Rittenhouse were Black?” Champaign County NAACP President Minnie Pearson wondered, echoing the thoughts of many in the African American community since Friday’s news that the Illinois teen was acquitted of all charges related to the killing of two men during unrest in the summer of 2020 in Kenosha, Wis.

“One can surmise,” Pearson said, “that if Kyle was a Black armed vigilante, the outcome would have proved deadly in the streets of Wisconsin.”

As the country began to turn its attention to a courtroom in Brunswick, Ga., we asked 77 members of the local African American community for the one word that came to mind first when they learned of the verdict, or the one word that best sums up their feelings after hearing a Wisconsin juror repeat the phrase not guilty five times.

Aaron Alford

Aaron Alford

DEFEATED

Aaron Alford, Carle Foundation Hospital athletic trainer


Al Allison

Al Allison

WHITE

Al Allison, Champaign business owner


Aaron Ammons

Aaron Ammons

INDIFFERENT

Aaron Ammons, Champaign County clerk


Carol Ammons

Carol Ammons

FORESEEABLE

Carol Ammons, Urbana state representative


Gianina Baker

Gianina Baker

WEARY

Gianina Baker, Champaign school board member


Jeffrey Barkstall

Jeffrey Barkstall

EXPECTED

Jeffrey Barkstall, Century 21 Heartland Real Estate


Imani Bazzell

Imani Bazzell

EMPOWERED

Imani Bazzell, SisterNet founding director


Chaundra Bishop

Chaundra Bishop

UNSURPRISED

Chaundra Bishop, Urbana city council member


Carol Bradford

Carol Bradford

DISCONCERTED

Carol Bradford, Director of Substance Abuse Treatment, Rosecrance Central Illinois


Jamar Brown

Jamar Brown

CONCERNED

Jamar Brown, Civil Engineer, University of Illinois


Hub Burnett

Hub Burnett

MOTIVATED

Hub Burnett, Owner, Suits By Soouljah of Champaign


Stacie Burnett

Stacie Burnett

PRIVILEGED

Stacie Burnett, Champaign County Readers Digest


Evette Campbell

Evette Campbell

EXPECTED

Evette Campbell, Champaign County court clerk


Kaleb Carter

Kaleb Carter

INFURIATED

Kaleb Carter, Athletic Director, Centennial High School


Valena Claiborne

Valena Claiborne

WHAT???!!!

Valena Claiborne, Executive Pastor, C-U Church


Byron Clark

Byron Clark

TYPIFYING

Byron Clark, UI Student Affairs Director of Development


Dionne Clifton

Dionne Clifton

DISGUSTED

Dionne Clifton, LIVE Real Estate Group of Urbana


Stephanie Cockrell

Stephanie Cockrell

ANGUISHED

Stephanie Cockrell, CEO, The Well Experience


Michele Cooper

Michele Cooper

VEXED

Michele Cooper, Retired U.S. Army equal employment opportunity manager


Ruthie Counter

Ruthie Counter

DISAPPOINTED

Ruthie Counter, Associate Director, Marketing and Public Relations, Parkland College


Tracy Dace

Tracy Dace

PARALYZED

Tracy Dace, DREAAM House founder


Leon Dash

Leon Dash

PREDICTABLE

Leon Dash, UI Swanlund Chair Professor of Journalism


Lisa Gaye Dixon

Lisa Gaye Dixon

FEAR

Lisa Gaye Dixon, UI Professor of Acting; Producer Illinois Theatre


Shanae Dowell

Shanae Dowell

INJUSTICE

Shanae Dowell, Co-Pastor, 21st Century Christian Worship Church of Danville


David Fields

David Fields

DISBELIEF

David Fields, Former Danville School Superintendent


Anthony Figueroa

Anthony Figueroa

NUMB

Anthony Figueroa, Parkland College Men's Basketball Coach, Assistant Athletic Director


Karen Flynn

Karen Flynn

SHOCKED

Karen Flynn, UI Associate Professor, Gender & Women’s Studies and African American Studies


Marcus Forrest

Marcus Forrest

EXPECTED

Marcus Forrest, Danville High School Football Coach


Robert Freeman

Robert Freeman

SORROW

Robert Freeman, Pastor, First United Methodist of Urbana


Sean Garrick

Sean Garrick

EXPECTED

Sean Garrick, UI Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion


Dana Gillon

Dana Gillon

NONPLUSSED

Dana Gillon, Strategic Leadership, UI Facilities & Services


Rebecca Ginsburg

Rebecca Ginsburg

PAINED

Rebecca Ginsburg, Director, Education Justice Project


Sam Hall

Sam Hall

DISAPPOINTED

Sam Hall, DREAAM Program Director


Sharva Hampton-Campbell

Sharva Hampton-Campbell

UNSURPRISING

Sharva Hampton-Campbell, Student Affairs Coordinator, UI School of Social Work


DeShon Harris

DeShon Harris

TYPICAL

DeShon Harris, Head Teacher, Champaign County Regional Planning Commission


Marnita Harris

Marnita Harris

EXPECTED

Marnita Harris, C-U author, UI Housing representative


Lamont Holden

Lamont Holden

NUMB

Lamont Holden, Music producer, DJ and UI Clinical Assistant Professor of Audio & Recording Technologies


Gladys Hunt

Gladys Hunt

SADDENED

Gladys D. Hunt, First Black Assistant Executive Director, Housing Authority of Champaign County


Shirese Hursey

Shirese Hursey

EXPECTED

Shirese Hursey, Urbana City Council member