KENOSHA, Wis. — The judge presiding over the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, Judge Bruce Schroeder, created controversy Thursday afternoon after making a joke about Asian food as the court went into a lunch break.
"I hope the Asian food isn't coming isn't on one of those boats from Long Beach Harbor," Schroeder said as the trial broke for lunch.
The comment appears to have been in reference to supply chain issues at ports in California. Long Beach Harbor is a container port near Los Angeles.
John Yang, the president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC, told CNN that the judge's comments "harm(s) our community and puts us in the crosshairs of microaggressions as well as actual physical violence."
Schroeder's comments come almost two weeks after he dismissed a juror for making a joke about Jacob Blake, whose shooting by a Kenosha police officer sparked the Kenosha protests and unrest.
After learning about what the juror said, Schroeder told the court last week, "I'm going to summarize what I remember, what I was told. He was telling a joke. He told the officer, he made a reference about telling a joke about why did it take seven shots to shoot Jacob Blake. Something to that effect."
"It is clear that the appearance to bias is present, and it would seriously undermine the outcome of the case," Schroeder said as he made his decision to dismiss the juror.
Both the prosecution and the defense agreed with the dismissal.
The judge also emerged in national headlines before the trial began when he ruled that prosecutors could not refer to people as victims — including the three people shot by Rittenhouse — before jurors in his Kenosha County courtroom.
Schroeder is currently the longest-serving trial court judge in Wisconsin.
Rittenhouse faces five felony charges stemming from the shooting amid protests following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. If convicted on one of two first-degree intentional homicide charges, he could face life in prison.
This story was originally published by Scripps station TMJ4 in Milwaukee.