Two Verdicts, No Justice: The story of two verdicts. The story of “race and justice” in America

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By Kelly Brown Douglas and Serene Jones
Thursday, November 18th, Julius Jones was granted clemency and his life was spared execution for a murder to which he maintains his innocence. This was a several years-long struggle led by legions of on-the-ground Oklahomans who stood up for justice before the Julius Jones case became a cause célèbre and before white conservative Christians added their voices. At the center of that organizing were Black churches and ministers in Oklahoma City for whom this fight for justice was a deeply moral and religious cause. In response to the protests which gained national attention Governor Kevin Stitt made the last-minute decision to spare Julius Jones’s life, commuting his sentence to life without the possibility of parole. Verdict One.

Friday, November 19th, a Wisconsin jury found Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty of all charges, including two homicide charges. Rittenhouse pleaded self-defense after killing two men and wounding another who were protesting the police shooting of Jacob
Blake, a Black man, several times in the back in response to an alleged domestic issue. Kyle Rittenhouse walked out of the courtroom a free man. Verdict Two.
The juxtaposition of the two “verdicts” is starkly revealing. In Jones’s case, his plea of innocence and the legal claim of “reasonable doubt” saved him from being murdered by the state of Oklahoma but was not enough to win him his freedom. In Rittenhouse’s case, despite the fact that he crossed state lines with an assault weapon targeting protesters, his plea of being scared and the