/  11.12.2021

The judge presiding over Kyle Rittenhouse’s homicide trial is facing backlash after making a joke about “Asian food” that some found offensive. Before breaking for lunch on Thursday (Nov. 11), Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder said, “I hope the Asian food isn’t coming… isn’t on one of those boats in Long Beach Harbor,” seemingly referring to supply chain issues that have kept boats off the California coast idling for days.

“Maybe I’m supposed to applaud him for not saying ‘Oriental food,’” John C. Yang, the executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC, reacted on Twitter. “Seriously, this remark can only be seen as a joke at the expense of Asians/Asian Americans. During a trial that clearly has race implications, no less. Definitely not okay.”

“The Asian joke, clapping for a defense witness, Trump’s rally song playing on his cell during the trial, just a few things he’s done. Schroeder should be removed and disbarred,” another person wrote.

Schroeder previously faced criticism for not allowing prosecutors to call the two men Rittenhouse shot and killed “victims.”

“The word victim is a loaded, loaded word,” he said at the time, adding that the men could instead be referred to as “looters” and “rioters.” On Wednesday (Nov. 10), the judge’s cell phone also rang during proceedings, revealing his ringtone to be “God Bless the U.S.A.” by Lee Greenwood. Some social media users noted that the song was frequently played at Donald Trump’s rallies.

On Thursday, Schroeder also noted the Veteran’s Day holiday and asked if anyone in the courtroom served in the military. One man, a witness for the defense, said he had, and Schroeder led the room in clapping for him and other veterans to thank them for their service. Some people viewed the moment as possibly creating bias, as the witness’ veteran status could have impacted how the jury viewed his testimony.

Rittenhouse’s defense rested its case on Thursday and closing arguments for the trial are scheduled to begin on Monday (Nov. 15).


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