Kyle Rittenhouse—the 18-year-old who shot three protesters, killing two, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, during unrest there last year—was found not guilty on all charges Friday. The verdict was met with celebration from Republican lawmakers, right-wing activists, and white supremacists.
Ahead of the trial, right-wing activists clamored to Rittenhouse’s defense, arguing the teen was being maligned by the media and was in fact a hero. That full-throated defense of Rittenhouse was in keeping with the right’s response in the days following the shooting when Tucker Carlson said Rittenhouse was trying to “maintain order when no one else would,” and then-President Donald Trump said Rittenhouse was acting in self-defense. Far-right groups and white supremacists—from the Proud Boys to the International Conservative Community—have hailed Rittenhouse as a hero since the fatal shooting and used his image for propaganda purposes, Karim Zidan reported for Right Wing Watch.
Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA, and Jack Posobiec, senior editor of Human Events and a far-right propagator of the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, celebrated Rittenhouse’s acquittal on “The Charlie Kirk Show” Friday. Kirk announced that Rittenhouse would come on to the show in the coming days for an exclusive interview, along with Posobiec.
“Self-defense is a moral and biblical value,” Kirk told his audience.
Posobiec meanwhile encouraged Rittenhouse to “sue the pants off” of everyone, particularly national news outlets and Facebook. On Twitter, he shared an article from Revolver News, which read, “All hail Kyle Rittenhouse, Champion of Antioch, Savior of Kenosha, Slayer of Pedophiles! All hail the conquering hero!” and he promised to send “an entire package of MyPillow products to Kyle Rittenhouse’s mother” (because there’s never a time not to market Mike Lindell’s pillows).
Elected officials’ reactions weren’t any better.
“Be like Kyle. He represents the best of us,” Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers tweeted.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a far-right conspiracy theorist who has made racist videos, called on Rep. Ilhan Omar to apologize to Rittenhouse and Carlson. “Tucker bravely reports truth unlike the state controlled media lies, who cheered on the real domestic terrorists that you financially supported w/bail bond,” she tweeted.
J.D. Vance, the author of “Hillbilly Elegy” turned right-wing candidate for Senate in Ohio, was happy with the acquittal but called the trial and media attention paid to it “mob rule in a banana republic.”
Former Trump attorney Jenna Ellis told right-wing commentator Don Bongino, “The media needs to be held accountable.”
Ali Alexander, the lead organizer of the so-called Stop the Steal campaign, shared a message from Daniel Bostic, another Stop the Steal organizer: “For every one of us who have been endlessly and brutally libeled in the media and even framed for things we didn’t do, this verdict provides a small glimmer of hope.”
Conspiracy theorist DeAnna Lorraine was relieved the jury didn’t “cave to the mob,” writing on Gab, “finally, for once, truth and courage prevail and justice is on our side.”
“Kyle defended himself, plain and simple. And now, may he be a very well-deserved rich man suing the f*ck out of all the media outlets, celebrities and BIDEN for the utter defamation and destruction they put him through!! #FreeKyle!” she wrote.
“God is on our side,” Lauren Witzke—a flat-Earth, QAnon-believing conspiracy theorist with ties to white nationalists and antisemites—wrote on Gab. “The world needs more model young men like him that keep their communities safe from the mob.”
“Cheers everyone and congratulations to Kyle Rittenhouse for his freedom,” she added.
The white supremacist outlet VDARE called Rittenhouse a “hero.” On Twitter, the account stated: “This much is true: Kyle Rittenhouse is the hero we’ve been waiting for throughout the turbulent summer of 2020, where a Black Lives Matter/Antifa/Bolshevik revolution has our country on the brink of total chaos.”
In the Proud Boys Telegram channel, members celebrated Kyle’s acquittal and shared memes about his release. One user posted an image of Proud Boys holding a sign “Kyle Rittenhouse did nothing wrong,” while another posted a gif of a Black man lying on the ground while a white man kicked in his face.