‘Rittenhouse supports the BLM. I don’t support him we were scammed from the start’
Kyle Rittenhouse, the young man found not guilty after shooting dead two people and injuring a third, is facing a backlash of anger, ire and disbelief from members of the political right wing, after he said he was not a racist and supported Les vies des Noirs comptent.
In the weeks after the then 17-year-old was arrested and charged after he shot the three people amid protests for racial justice in August 2020 – he always insisted he acted in self-defence – the young man became a hero for gun-rights activists and others who who supported laws such as “Stand Your Ground”.
While the teenager was not a member of groups such as the Proud Boys, he was once photographed with some of their members – an image the jury was stopped from seeing following a ruling from the trial judge – the organisation and others backed his case and raised money for his legal defence.
But after Mr Rittenhouse spoke to Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, and insisted he supported the BLM movement and was not racist, many of those who had previously supported him, were quick do denounce him or worse.
“F***ing idiot. we should not support him anymore. that should be the job of his friends at blm then he is a traitor to the right,” one poster, SofaBear, wrote on Gettr, the social media platform popular with conservatives and founded by Jason Miller, a former aide to Donald Trump.
A person posting on Twitter, using the avatar “SkinMask Pure Blood”, a écrit: “Rittenhouse supports the blm. I don’t support him we were scammed from the start.”
Andrew Anglin, editor of the neo-Nazi and white supremacist website The Daily Stormer, which allegedly takes its title from the Nazi’s propaganda sheet Der Stürmer, a écrit: “If he seemed overly nice to the Blacks, we should remember that he’s a teenager from a single mother now facing non-stop death threats.”
Il ajouta: “The media has zoomed in on the fact that he allegedly said that he “supports BLM”. They’re talking about this to try to demoralise right-wingers. He didn’t really say that he supports the BLM agenda, he just said that he supports their right to protest.”
The range of reactions, comme collated by news sites such as the Daily Dot, spanned from anger to disbelief. A persistent theme was that had Mr Rittenhouse voiced his support for the racial justice movement earlier, they would not have backed him.
Commentators have said the responses underscored the way reaction to the case was polarised, and how Mr Rittenhouse became to be viewed in utterly different ways depending on people’e political perspective. To some he was a hero, to others he was – as the prosecution alleged – “a wannabe soldier” who went out looking for trouble.
Jared Holt, a former reporter at Right Wing Watch, and a fellow at Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, has been monitoring the way the shootings carried out by Mr Rittenhouse, and his subsequent trial, came to be viewed by various groups.
He said the fatal shootings came at the end of a tense summer and as the nation prepared for a presidential election.
“I think it became a pretty potent vehicle for other things that people felt they were experiencing," il a dit L'indépendant. “It became a kind of a flashpoint in a broader narrative.”
That was helped, il a dit, because there was so much live video of the shootings carried out by Mr Rittenhouse, and that day’s events, that enabled it to go viral very rapidly.
Dans l'entretien, Mr Rittenhouse said president Joe Biden had defamed him when he last year called him a “white supremacist”.
“Mr President, if I could say one thing to you, I would urge you to go back and watch the trial and understand the facts before you make a statement,” Mr Rittenhouse said.
Mr Carlson suggested it was “not a small thing to be called that”.
Mr Ritttenhouse responded: "Non. It’s actual malice, defaming my character, for him to say something like that.”
The young man had travelled 20 miles from his home in Illinois to Kenosha, Wisconsin, l'année dernière, after protests broke out after the police’s shooting and seriously injuring of a Black suspect, Jacob Blake.
Monsieur Rittenhouse, armed with an AR-style semiautomatic rifle, joined others who said they were determined to protect private property from potential damage on August 25 2020.
Over the course of that evening, he shot three people, all of them white, and two of them died from their wounds. He argued he had acted in self defence and the jury unanimously agreed when it cleared him of a series of five charges, the most serious of which was first degree intentional homicide.
“This case has nothing to do with race. It never had anything to do with race. It had to do with the right to self-defence,” he said in the interview, broadcast on Monday night.
“I thought they came to the correct verdict because it wasn’t Kyle Rittenhouse on trial in Wisconsin – it was the right to self defence on trial. And if I was convicted… no one would ever be privileged to defend their life against attackers.”
He also criticised two conservative lawyers, John Pierce and Lin Wood, who had initially represented him and raised $2m for his bail. He said they had used him to promote a “cause”.
“Lin Wood was raising money on my behalf, and he held me in jail for 87 journées, disrespecting my wishes," il a dit.
Mr Wood has denied the claim. “I was not an attorney pushing for a cause,” Mr Wood told reporters. “Fightback has a mission that includes the right to bear arms and self-defence.”
Additional reporting by Associated Press