Protesters march in opposition to Kyle Rittenhouse verdict

Protests popped up across the country Friday night in response to the Kyle Rittenhouse acquittal.

In Oakland more than 100 people gathered in front of City Hall, then marched to the Federal building.

"This is about all of us, this is much bigger than Wisconsin," said Rachel Jackson of People's Strike Bay Area, one of the groups organizing the demonstration.

"It is sending a message that it's open season on protesters."

Speakers addressed the crowd, praising the two men Rittenhouse shot and killed, and denouncing his actions and his acquittal.  

"It is a green light to every sniveling coward, every wanna be white supremacist vigilante, every little Nazi who can go and buy themselves a gun," declared one woman, to cheers.

SEE ALSO: Governor Newsom reacts to Kyle Rittenhouse verdict as Bay Area protests

The case and verdict divided Kenosha and became a national flashpoint for debate on guns, vigilantism, and equity on the streets and in the courts.

"This man was allowed to walk around with an AR-15 and he wasn't detained, he wasn't arrested," said  Quanah Brightman of  United Native Americans.

"Meanwhile if a person of color was walking around with an AR-15, I'm pretty sure they'd be arrested and detained."

Critics of the outcome are calling on the U.S. Justice Department to review the case for civil rights violations.

Most legal observers say the jury came to the proper decision, under Wisconsin's permissive definition of self-defense.

They also point to the sympathy generated for Rittenhouse when he took the witness stand and told his story, sobbing.

"I'm sure that went to the jury's personal heartstrings because they thought of their children or grandchildren, and knowing that sometimes young people make very dreadful mistakes," said criminal defense attorney Stanley Goff, who practices in San Francisco.

Goff also points to blunders by the prosecution, including the  testimony of their star witness who was shot and wounded by Rittenhouse 

"He got up there on the stand and he admitted that he had pointed his gun at Rittenhouse before Rittenhouse shot him and that actually bolstered the defense's claim."

Demonstrators admit they were not surprised by the acquittal, after watching the demeanor of the judge.   

"He's quoting the Bible and likening Kyle to a biblical figure, it was over the top," said Jackson.

She and others fear the verdict makes targets of protesters across the country.

"It's putting us in the cross-hairs," said Jackson, "so protest at your own risk and if these vigilantes want to come out and shoot and kill us, it's going to be okay."

Rittenhouse, now 18, is likely to be sued by victim's families for wrongful death.

Unlike criminal proceedings, civil court allows broader evidence about the teenager's background and motivations.

A civil jury need only find that he acted negligently in bringing a firearm into a crowd and using it.