Ed Martin, president of Phyllis Schlafly Eagles and a right-wing operative with the so-called Stop the Steal movement, took to his “Pro America Report” podcast Monday to praise Kyle Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old who shot three anti-racism protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year, killing two.
“Kyle Rittenhouse is a hero,” Martin told listeners.
The trial of Rittenhouse, who faces charges of homicide and attempted homicide, began Monday.
Kenosha was among the cities that saw last summer a swell of protests against the police killings of Black men, particularly after police in that city shot Jacob Blake. On the night of Aug. 25, 2020, Rittenhouse, then 17, responded to a Kenosha-based militia group’s call to protect businesses from protestors supporting Black Lives Matter. Driving from his hometown of Antioch, Illinois, some 30 minutes away, Rittenhouse arrived in Kenosha with an AR-15-style rifle. Video from multiple angles captured Rittenhouse and several protesters in physical confrontations before Rittenhouse shot dead two men, seriously injuring a third.
Rittenhouse’s lawyer claims he was acting in self-defense, while prosecutors note the teen was “the only person who killed anyone” in the unrest in Kenosha.
In the days following the shooting, right-wing activists clamored to Rittenhouse’s defense. Tucker Carlson said he was trying to “maintain order when no one else would.” Ann Coulter tweeted, “I wanted him as my president,” and even then-President Donald Trump came to Rittenhouse’s defense. Karim Zidan reported for Right Wing Watch how since then, far-right groups and white supremacists—from the Proud Boys to the International Conservative Community—have hailed him as a hero, using his image for propaganda purposes.
On Monday, Martin joined right-wing activists and conspiracy theorists in calling Rittenhouse a hero and suggesting that the summer of protests in reaction to the police killings of unarmed Black men was “engineered by the leftists.”
“And what this country needs to understand, what people should care about is that Kyle Rittenhouse was one of the few people that ran towards the bullets in that summer of hell that was engineered,” Martin said. “At this point, I think we can say engineered by the leftists who wanted to take down President Trump. Because is there a reason why this whole summer in the last four months, there was no rioting?”
“Did Black Lives Matter and antifa get all of their problems solved? I don’t think so,” Martin said. “In fact, what we can say now is they used the summer of —they, meaning the left—to ‘fortify’ the election.”
Martin went on to applaud Rittenhouse for his actions to “stand up for property.”
“And my point here in setting that up is Kyle Rittenhouse was a completely—his conduct was completely consistent with what Americans should do,” Martin continued. “Stand up for the property, stand up for their towns, stand up for what’s happening. He is a hero—that’s true. Kyle Rittenhouse is a hero. Kyle Rittenhouse should be regarded as someone who did the right things.”
“He stepped up in a way that was, frankly, it was much more, it was much more worthy of praise than the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of Americans that sat home and watched cities burn,” he said, before clarifying his stance. “By the way, I’m not at all inviting people to go get their guns and go out and shoot up the place. That’s not what happened to Kyle Rittenhouse. Kyle Rittenhouse was threatened. Kyle Rittenhouse’s life was in danger. Kyle Rittenhouse wasn’t a newbie to guns. He knew what he was doing, he knew how to handle it.”
Insisting that Rittenhouse shouldn’t even be on trial, Martin likened the treatment of Rittenhouse to that of Trump loyalists who attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 to prevent the certification of electoral votes for President Joe Biden.
“What happens a lot, a lot, in this country is that the left does crazy, terrible things, and then they get away with it. They rioted and burned cars on Inauguration Day 2017. None of them were charged. All those charges were dropped. And when Republicans—well, not Republican—when conservatives do something, they get charged, they get hung out to dry. Jan. 6 is an example. … This is another example.”
“Kyle Rittenhouse was trying to save his community. Kyle Rittenhouse was trying to protect property. Kyle Rittenhouse was in the great tradition of this country,” Martin continued. “But certainly, it was within his rights to do what he did. And the people that were burning down Kenosha and rioting and looting—they should be on trial.”
“What you need to know now is we—you and me, people that care—have to stand up for Kyle Rittenhouse,” Martin concluded. “We have to be on his side.”