Bruce Murphy
Back in the News

The Return of Kyle Rittenhouse

Accused Portland killer wears t-shirt declaring Kyle a patriot, as Rittenhouse launches new group to sue the media.

By - Feb 28th, 2022 01:45 pm
Kyle Rittenhouse speaking with attendees at the 2021 AmericaFest at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Kyle Rittenhouse speaking with attendees at the 2021 AmericaFest at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America, (CC BY-SA 2.0), via Wikimedia Commons

We haven’t heard the last of Kyle Rittenhouse. Far from It.

Rittenhouse, then 17, fatally shot two men and injured another at a 2020 Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha but was eventually acquitted of all charges. He has now launched an organization that intends to sue “everybody who lied about me,” as Rittenhouse told Fox commentator Tucker Carlson.

Rittenhouse has become the darling of the right wing and gun rights supporters and his style of vigilante justice may be inspiring others. Last week Benjamin Smith, “a 43-year-old Portland man was charged with murder after a shooting during a weekend protest against police killings in which a woman was killed and five others including the suspect were wounded,” the New York Times reported. “The police identified the woman who was killed as Brandy Knightly, 60, who was shot in the head at close range and died on the scene.” Smith wore a t-shirt with these words: “Kyle Rittenhouse true patriot.”

For those seeking to embrace the Kenosha shooter, there are all kinds of t-shirts available. You can get a “Kyle Rittenhouse this is what an American patriot looks like” shirt or go to this website, which sells various t-shirts including “Kyle Rittenhouse Don’t Tread On Me” or “Kyle Rittenhouse Punisher” and an image of Kyle Rittenhouse with his famous rifle and the words, “Come and Take It.”

The selling of Kyle Rittenhouse as an American hero began not long after he was indicted, with a website launched in December 2020, which sought to raise $2 million in defense funds for him. It featured “more than 30 apparel items and accessories emblazoned with the logo ‘Free Kyle’ and a slogan, ‘Self-defense is a right, not a privilege,’ the Washington Post reported. “There’s a beanie ($21.99), a hoodie ($39.99) and a T-shirt ($21.99).”

As I predicted, the Rittenhouse trial, which found him not guilty on grounds of self-defense, could inspire more vigilante killings. As Urban Milwaukee’s Data Wonk observed, the case opened the door to anyone with a gun claiming self defense because an un-armed person could take that gun away and start shooting: “In bringing his rifle into Kenosha, Rittenhouse made Kenosha more dangerous for others,” Bruce Thompson noted. “He also made it more dangerous for himself. From his testimony, it is evident he feared that the three people he shot intended to seize the rifle and use it against him.”

But across the county many have celebrated Rittenhouse. In December he was given a hero’s welcome and a standing ovation at a conference of Turning Point USA, a conservative youth organization that has supported Donald Trump and his false claim that he didn’t lose the 2020 election to Joe Biden. “You’re a hero to millions,” Turning Point USA leader Charlie Kirk told Rittenhouse at the event in Phoenix. “It’s an honor to be able to have you.”

“My trial was an example of them trying to come after our Second Amendment rights, our right to defend ourselves and trying to take our weapons,” Rittenhouse told the crowd.

Rittenhouse, now 19, is thinking of writing a book about his “unorthodox journey into adulthood,” his spokesperson told Newsweek in January. ”He could easily secure a seven-figure book contract,” a former talent agent told the AP in November, adding that Rittenhouse “could monetize his brand and potentially make in the millions.”

And last week Rittenhouse went on Carlson’s Fox News show to announce a new project to raise money for legal suits. “Me and my team have decided to launch The Media Accountability Project as a tool to help fundraise and hold the media accountable for the lies they said and deal with them in court,” Rittenhouse told Carlson.

“We’re looking at quite a few politicians, celebrities, athletes, Whoopi Goldberg’s on the list,” Rittenhouse warned. “She called me a ‘murderer’ after I was acquitted by a jury of my peers. She went on to still say that.”

“We’re going to hold everybody… accountable,” Rittenhouse said. “And we’re going to handle them in a courtroom.”

While experts have doubted such suits would be successful, the money raised and publicity generated will, along with the proposed book and all the t-shirts for sale, continue to help portray Rittenhouse as a hero and example for more Americans. Or as the Portland shooter Benjamin Smith might put it, Rittenhouse is a true patriot.

5 thoughts on “Back in the News: The Return of Kyle Rittenhouse”

  1. blurondo says:

    Oh! What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.

  2. kaygeeret says:

    Ugh – – and any reasonable human being could see this coming – the monitization of the acquitted murderer – and another right wing, dangerous person committed to silencing anyone who does not agree with him.

    By any means.

    So glad I am old.

  3. Keith Schmitz says:

    The true patriots are in Ukraine.

    Maybe Kyle should pick up a gun and head right on over.

  4. Mingus says:

    When Kyle Rittenhouse and George Zimmerman, who gunned down Trayvon Martin, become national heroes, conservatives need to start thinking of what is happening to their movement. It is like glorifying the mob who killed Emmett Till.

  5. GodzillakingMKE says:

    He’s a cold blooded killer, I think he’d be better working with Putin.

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