Levi Strauss and Best Buy are facing boycotts after they offered counseling to employees after Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty of the charges brought against him as a result of the Kenosha shootings.
Three white men were shot in self-defense by Rittenhouse on the night the drama unfolded in August 2020. Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, both died while Gaige Grosskreutz, who was 26 at the time, was left wounded. Rittenhouse was cleared of all the charges by the jury in November 2021.
The two companies sent out emails to staff offering emotional and mental support in coming to terms with the verdicts. Levi’s offered a session with a racial trauma specialist while Best Buy offered mental health resources and counselling services.
Elizabeth Morrison, Levi’s chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer said in an email: “With the news that Kyle Rittenhouse was not convicted in the shooting of three individuals — two of whom lost their lives — during racial justice protests last year, this is a difficult day for many. The pain and trauma of race, identity and belief-based tragedies is a reality that many of us are struggling with on an ongoing basis. It can feel physically, mentally and emotionally draining to continue to relive these moments, and I want you to know, it’s okay to not be okay.”
She added: “To help promote safety, sharing and to encourage healing, I’ll be hosting a fireside chat and Q&A with Dr. Jamila Codrington, a licensed psychologist and racial trauma specialist in early December. Dr. J and I will talk about the mental and psychical impacts of back-to-back social and racial justice events and trauma coping mechanisms during our discussion.”
Mark Irvin, Best Buy’s chief inclusion talent and diversity officer sent an email with a similar tone. He said: “The verdict in Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial stirs many emotions, and it’s another difficult moment for our nation. While these events can be challenging and deeply hurtful, I hope you will take a moment to reflect on the values that unite us as a company and as a nation. We can do better, as each of us as individuals, allies and human beings press together for better outcomes.”
He continued: “I know events like these can take a toll on mental health and emotional well-being. Please know that best Buy is here to support you. By engaging together, and supporting one another in vulnerability, empathy, courage, and grace, we can continue to strengthen our company and community to stand together as one. Steadfast together.”