Kyle Rittenhouse verdict: The TRUTH behind viral #burnitdown trend
Following the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, the whole of the US is on edge, but perhaps nowhere as badly as in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The National Guard is currently on standby outside the city, as police have ramped up their presence fearing protests may get out of hand. The anger and fury at the verdict are only being fuelled by social media users, who are now calling for reform, many in some not-so-safe ways.
President Joe Biden, while saying he was "angry and concerned" has urged for peace. Numerous celebrities and other politicians have also weighed in, with most people appearing to be outraged by the verdict. The families of the victims have also slammed the acquittal, with Joseph Rosenbaum's fiance Kariann Swart saying, "The biggest thing I need to say is that if one person’s life or two person’s lives don’t matter, then none of our lives matter."
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Protests have already begun in Kenosha, and other parts of the country, and the verdict is now being widely talked about on social media. Shortly after it was announced on November 19, the phrase "burn it down" began trending on social media, which worryingly could indicate that the protests may escalate.
Why is 'burn it down' trending?
The phrase gained significant momentum after Todd Starnes, the conservative columnist tweeted, ""Burn it down" trends on Twitter. Careful, thugs. The citizens of Kenosha will protect their property and their people. #rittenhouse." He was one of the many conservatives to slam the outrage over the verdict. Many, including Sen. Ted Cruz, Rep. Lauren Boebart, and Rep. Ronny Jackson have slammed the Democrats, including the President, for their reactions.
"Burn it down" trends on Twitter. Careful, thugs. The citizens of Kenosha will protect their property and their people. #rittenhouse— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) November 19, 2021
But even before Starnes' tweet, users appeared to be calling for violence with tweets like, "No f-----g way Kyle Rittenhouse just walked. F--k this country burn it down," and "Rotten from the root. Burn it down." Other tweets that include the phrase are "Justice is a myth. Burn it down" and "Our criminal justice system is ruthlessly efficient at protecting the right of white men to visit violence of all kinds on others. It is built to protect white supremacy and the only way to stop it is to burn it down and build something new."
No fucking way Kyle Rittenhouse just walked. Fuck this country burn it down— MF DOM (@dominic_botinic) November 19, 2021
Rotten from the root. Burn it down.— Maegan Gwaltney (@MaeG765) November 20, 2021
Justice is a myth.— Dwayne “Deascent” Gittens (@Deascent) November 19, 2021
Burn it down.
Our criminal justice system is ruthlessly efficient at protecting the right of white men to visit violence of all kinds on others. It is built to protect white supremacy and the only way to stop it is to burn it down and build something new— gabriel nott (@gnott529) November 19, 2021
As you can see, most tweets appear to be alluding to the justice system, and not property in Kenosha as Starnes alleged. A large number of people are using the phrase to call for a reform in the criminal justice system, which Governors Kathy Hochul and JB Pritzker also called for in their reactions to the verdict. That said, there are a few people out there who clearly want to see things escalate to violence on the streets.
There are also several videos currently circulating on Twitter that appear to be taken from a protest in New York City. MEAWW cannot verify if the videos are authentic, or taken on November 19, but we can confirm that the claims protesters are chanting "burn it down" is fake. If you hear their chants, you can clearly hear them saying "shut it down", and not "burn it down". It's not clear what the context of the chant is, but it's pretty clear they are saying "shut it down".
That said, there are some users who are clearly hoping for things to escalate into violence. Many appear to be egging on other users and actively calling for violence. We are choosing not to share these tweets. We also urge you to make your feelings about the verdict felt in a safe, and legal manner.