Statement from Speaker Laurie Jinkins and Black Members Caucus Chair Rep. Jamila Taylor on Rittenhouse verdict

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Today, Speaker Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma), together with Black Members Caucus Chair Rep. Jamila Taylor (D-Federal Way), issued the following statements after Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all charges in the fatal Kenosha shootings:

“The Kyle Rittenhouse shooting of three people, two of whom died, was avoidable. When guns are brought to protests that are highly tumultuous, it opens up the possibility of people being injured or killed by gunfire. That is why two people died in Kenosha, Wis. Whether it was murder, or self-defense, it was unnecessary for guns to be at that protest. And now two people are dead, and families feel powerless and empty with the loss of a loved one.

“Here in Washington state, we believe you should not have to fear for your life when you protest. Yet we have seen armed protestors in our streets, outside small businesses, and even on our Capitol campus. Just blocks from the Capitol, opposing groups of protestors fired shots at each other earlier this year. That is exactly why the Legislature passed SB 5038, banning open carry at registered events and on the Capitol grounds.

“At best, a gun stifles free speech. At worst, a scared teenager can shoot three people and face no consequences. We passed SB 5038 to protect the rights and safety of all the people of the great state of Washington.” – Speaker Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma)

“Everyone should be able to exercise their lawful right to protest without fear of being killed by people with guns, especially communities of color who have been terrorized for generations when we stand up to injustice. As lawmakers, we have a responsibility to pass laws that keep all of us safe and protect the right to free speech. In banning the open carry of guns at public protests and the state Capitol, the Legislature took a step forward towards ensuring that everyone in Washington state can stand up, make their voices heard and demand change.”  – Rep. Jamila Taylor (D-Federal Way)