Kyle Rittenhouse: Kenosha gunman supporters sell 'Free Kyle' merchandise online to fund his legal fight
The legal fight for Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse, who was charged with the killing of two men during protests sparked by the police shooting of a Black man, is now being funded by the sale of online merchandise. The 17-year-old Rittenhouse from Antioch, Illinois, faces charges for the murder of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and for attempted murder of Gaige Grosskreutz, also 26.
The shootings happened in the wake of protests following the police shooting of Jacob Blake on August 23, which saw the victim being left paralyzed. Rittenhouse had arrived at the protests with an AR-15 rifle but his lawyer, Mark Richards, insists he had acted in self-defense.
Rittenhouse's case has sparked further controversy surrounding gun laws and racial violence with the Black Lives Matter supporters dubbing him a white vigilante who tried to instigate violence during an already volatile situation. Gun rights activists, on the other hand, insist he was there to help law enforcement protect people and property. They have now taken their defense of the teen online, specifically to a website called FreeKyleUsa.com, where merchandise emblazoned with a slogan of support for Rittenhouse is available.
A range of products including T-shirts, hoodies, stickers, mugs, iPhone covers and laptop sleeves are now available with the words 'FreeKyle', with some of the clothing items also carrying the slogan "self-defense is a right not a privilege." Alongside outlining Rittenhouse's claims of defense, the website points out how he had arrived at the scene and "volunteered to help protect local businesses." The website goes on to claim that Rittenhouse was "attacked" and so "was forced to defend his life," adding that the "God-given and Constitutional right to self-defense is now on trial in Kenosha, Wisconsin."
The accused teen's mother Wendy Rittenhouse has thanked supporters in a statement for donations to the Fightback Foundation led by Attorney Lin Wood. The foundation was involved in raising the money used to post Rittenhouse's $2M bail. Wendy estimates the defense costs for the trial to be another $2 to $2.5M and says in a message: "Asking for help has never been easy for me, but Kyle and my family really need your help."
John Pierce, representing Rittenhouse in civil cases, has clarified that income from the merchandise will go solely to the defense costs. "As I have said repeatedly, yes, all proceeds of FreeKyleUSA.com will be held in trust and controlled by Kyle's mom for defense fees and costs. There is no profit being made," he said, according to Madison.com, as Rittenhouse awaits arraignment on January 5 in Kenosha County Circuit Court.
This comes after Wendy had called out President-elect Joe Biden for using her son as a symbol of white supremacy in his presidential campaign. During a chat with Fox News about a month ago, Wendy had alleged that the Biden presidential campaign “used my son’s image to get votes”. “How dare him (Biden)… do that to my son. That’ my son that he did that to. And I’m not going to back down from him… and (Kyle) is not a white supremacist, she added.