Kenosha Shooter’s Release on $2 Million Bail Sparks Outrage and Joy

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Liberty Nguyen, Staff Writer

Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old shooter who went viral earlier this year for shooting and killing two Black Lives Matter protesters and injuring a third during a protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, has been released from jail on $2 million bail. 

According to his attorney, Lin Wood, Rittenhouse received donations from actor Ricky Schroder and Mike Lindell, the CEO of My Pillow, who then received countless criticism and negative comments online.

The shooting of Jacob Blake in a demonstration of police brutality incited an onslaught of protests and civil unrest around the country. Rittenhouse said he had a friend purchase an assault rifle for him and then traveled from Illinois to a Kenosha protest where he shot three men, killing two. His attorneys claimed that he acted in self-defense. Rittenhouse also told police he was attacked while guarding a business.

Rittenhouse has been charged with killing two men with an AR-15 rifle and faces six criminal counts in Wisconsin, including first-degree intentional homicide. He is also charged with the illegal possession of a firearm while under the age of 18, a misdemeanor, according to court records.

His attorneys created a group called the #FightBack Foundation to raise funds for his bail, using their Twitter accounts to call for donations while promoting conservative causes and showing their support for President Donald Trump.

Rittenhouse’s case has become a topic of debate between conservatives and Black Lives Matter supporters. His release sparked both outrage and celebration on social media from people who argued his case was an example of racial privilege and others who applauded him as a hero. 

As NPR’s Hannah Allam reported, “On the left, the suspect is portrayed as the embodiment of today’s domestic terrorism threat: A cop-idolizing wannabe militiaman who allegedly traveled across state lines to confront protesters with a gun he was not legally allowed to possess. 

“On the right, the teen’s actions instantly were justified as self-defense, the natural end to ‘Democrat cities’ letting radical leftists maraud through the streets.”

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticized Rittenhouse’s release in what she called a “double standard” within the criminal justice system. “Does anyone believe Rittenhouse would be released if he were Muslim and did the same thing in a [different] context?” Ocasio-Cortez asked on Twitter.

“For people who say ‘systemic racism doesn’t exist,’ this is what it looks like: protection of white supremacy baked deep into our carceral systems,” she continued.

Although Rittenhouse had illegal possession of an AR-15 rifle, he claims that he does not regret carrying it that night. “I had to protect myself. I would have died that night if I didn’t,” he said.

Debates online argue whether or not Rittenhouse is a teenage murderer or someone who was acting in self-defense.