During the Kyle Rittenhouse homicide trial on Thursday, Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder made a joke that some say is racist.
When the prosecution attorneys asked when they would break for lunch, Schroeder said, “Around one o’clock.” He added, “I hope the Asian food isn’t on one of those boats in Long Beach harbor,” he added.
While the comment seemed to be a commentary on the supply chain backup, the joke has sparked a backlash online.
Michele Dauber, a Stanford professor, said Schroeder made a “thinly-veiled anti-Asian comment.”
“Because all Asian food comes from China like the boats,” she said in a tweet, “What a bigot.”
Lawyer Exavier Pope called Schroeder “a racist.”
Political podcaster Tyler Cohen said Schroeder was “unprofessional” and “clearly biased.”
However, others said they believe the outrage over the judge’s comment went over the line.
Journalist Ian Miles Cheong asked people to “stop pretending to be offended.”
Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk tweeted his unwavering support of Schroeder and also said that Rittenhouse “did nothing wrong.”
This is not the first time the judge has been accused of being biased or unprofessional.
He made headlines before the trial began after he reiterated his rule that prosecutors cannot refer to people as “victims” before the jury in the courtroom. However, the men Rittenhouse shot could be referred to as “rioters” or “looters” if the evidence shows them engaging in arson, rioting or looting.
Schroeder grew angry with the prosecution on Wednesday and received backlash for his ringtone song, which was used at rallies for President Donald Trump, and his insistence that the court clap for a defense witness, who is a veteran, on Veterans Day.
Conservatives such as Ann Coulter expressed their frustration with the growing accusations of racism during the trial, implying that liberals are nitpicking over things to be angered by.
The split reaction to Schroeder’s conduct and the testimonies given during the trial point to the political divide in the U.S. The trial has gained national attention as it highlights the country’s racial and political tensions. The trial’s subject matter reflects different viewpoints on gun control, Black Lives Matter protests and the conduct of both protesters and law enforcement.
Rittenhouse, a white teenager, is charged with killing two men with an AR-15 rifle and wounding another in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year during a night of protests. He pleaded not guilty, arguing he was acting in self-defense and “didn’t intend to kill” the three men he shot.
After Rittenhouse was photographed with members of the Proud Boys after his arrest, some Democrats accused him of being a white supremacist. Critics also accused him of fake crying during his testimony. However, he has been praised by Republicans, like GOP Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, who said Rittenhouse was a hero who “stepped forward” when “Democrats seeded chaos and stoked violence.”