Bruce Schroeder, the judge who is overseeing the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, the man charged in the shooting deaths of two men and wounding of another in Kenosha, Wisconsin, has come under fire for making a racially-charged joke about Asian cuisine.
A clip of Schroeder making the joke has been viewed more than 2 million times as of Thursday evening.
You can watch it below.
Speaking ahead of a lunch break, Schroeder said:
"I hope the Asian food isn't coming … isn't on one of those boats in Long Beach Harbor."
The joke appeared to be a reference to the supply-chain backlog impacting California ports that has left boats standing idle for days.
The backlog is only the latest development amid a global supply-chain crisis, the result of COVID-19 disruptions paired with a boom in demand.
Last month, California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, issued an executive order to address supply-chain congestion at shipping ports in the state.
But Schroeder's joke did not land, and he has faced significant pushback from figures like John C. Yang, the executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), a group dedicated to protecting the civil, political, and human rights of the Asian American community.
Writing on Twitter, Yang said Schroeder's joke was inappropriate particularly since he is overseeing a trial "that clearly has race implications, no less."
Eric Feigl-Ding, an Asian American public health scientist who is currently a Senior Fellow at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington DC, called the joke "racist" because the majority of the boats ensnared in the supply-chain crisis are from Asia.
Others have also condemned the joke and called for Schroeder to be removed from the bench.
Schroeder has faced accusations of bias in the Rittenhouse trial for sparring with prosecutors and providing commentary, behavior that has raised concerns from legal observers who have suggested it could be used by appelate attorneys as evidence that Schroeder is making a mistake.
Schroeder made headlines before the trial began for directing that the word "victims" not be used before the jury to refer to those killed or injured by Rittenhouse.
Rittenhouse is represented by high-profile legal and fundraising teams who have played down his actions during the Kenosha unrest, which took place after police officers shot and partially paralyzed Jacob Blake, a Black man.
Rittenhouse faces multiple criminal counts, including first-degree intentional homicide and attempted homicide.