The legal team defending Kyle Rittenhouse, who faces murder charges in connection with the deaths of two men in the Kenosha, Wisconsin, riots last week, has fired its first salvo in its defense of the 17-year-old.
Rittenhouse is being defended by the law firm of Pierce Bainbridge as the result of extensive efforts on behalf of the Illinois youth by attorney Lin Wood and the #FightBack Foundation, which is helping to defray the costs of his defense, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Wood, who has represented Covington, Kentucky, teenager Nicholas Sandmann in his defamation lawsuits against CNN, The Washington Post and other major media outlets, emphasized in a Twitter post that he was not accepting money personally.
I will not take one thin dime from #FightBack Foundation donations for my time or expenses. I have security team of Navy SEALS to provide security for me, my family, my employees, & my neighbors. I will pay those costs. I will not be intimidated by leftist tactics or threats. https://t.co/haYQEXyDfx
— Lin Wood (@LLinWood) August 28, 2020
With debate raging among pundits, in social media, the halls of government and in city streets over the shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha police, the firm was clearly arguing its case in the court of public opinion in a statement about the aftermath of Blake’s shooting.
“The Kenosha Mayor and Wisconsin Governor failed to provide a basic degree of law and order to protect the citizens and community buildings in Kenosha. The city burned as mobs destroyed buildings and property, and looters stole whatever they wanted. Rioters defaced storefronts, the courthouse, and many other public and private locations across the city,” it said in a statement posted on Spectrum News.
The statement about Tuesday’s events disputed claims that Rittenhouse crossed state lines to commit acts of violence.
“After Kyle finished his work that day as a community lifeguard in Kenosha, he wanted to help clean up some of the damage, so he and a friend went to the local public high school to remove graffiti by rioters. Later in the day, they received information about a call for help from a local business owner, whose downtown Kenosha auto dealership was largely destroyed by mob violence. The business owner needed help to protect what he had left of his life’s work, including two nearby mechanic’s shops,” the statement said.
“Kyle and a friend armed themselves with rifles due to the deadly violence gripping Kenosha and many other American cities, and headed to the business premises. The weapons were in Wisconsin and never crossed state lines.”
The statement said Rittenhouse “stood guard at the mechanic’s shop across from the auto dealership to prevent further damage or destruction.”
Believing violence had ended for the night, the statement said, Rittenhouse “became increasingly concerned with the injured protestors and bystanders congregating at a nearby gas station with no immediate access to medical assistance or help from law enforcement.”
“Kyle headed in that direction with a first aid kit. He sought out injured persons, rendered aid, and tried to guide people to others who could assist to the extent he could do so amid the chaos. By the final time Kyle returned to the gas station and confirmed there were no more injured individuals who needed assistance, police had advanced their formation and blocked what would have been his path back to the mechanic’s shop,” the statement said.
After complying with the police order not to advance, Rittenhouse was en route to a different location being threatened by vandals when “he was accosted by multiple rioters who recognized that he had been attempting to protect a business the mob wanted to destroy,” the statement said.
“This outraged the rioters and created a mob now determined to hurt Kyle. They began chasing him down. Kyle attempted to get away, but he could not do so quickly enough. Upon the sound of a gunshot behind him, Kyle turned and was immediately faced with an attacker lunging towards him and reaching for his rifle. He reacted instantaneously and justifiably with his weapon to protect himself, firing and striking the attacker,” the statement said.
Chaos and fear followed as Rittenhouse fled.
A member of the rampaging mob “struck Kyle from behind as he fled down the street. Kyle turned as the mob pressed in on him and he fell to the ground. One attacker kicked Kyle on the ground while he was on the ground. Yet another bashed him over the head with a skateboard. Several rioters tried to disarm Kyle,” the statement said.
“In fear for his life and concerned the crowd would either continue to shoot at him or even use his own weapon against him, Kyle had no choice but to fire multiple rounds towards his immediate attackers, striking two, including one armed attacker. The rest of the mob began to disperse upon hearing the additional gunshots,” the statement said.
The statement noted that Rittenhouse’s attempts to surrender to police were futile, but that “he turned himself in to the police in his hometown, Antioch, Illinois.”
“Kyle did nothing wrong,” the statement said. “He exercised his God-given, Constitutional, common law and statutory law right to self-defense. However, in a reactionary rush to appease the divisive, destructive forces currently roiling this country, prosecutors in Kenosha did not engage in any meaningful analysis of the facts, or any in-depth review of available video footage (some of which shows that a critical state’s witness was not even at the area where the shots were fired); this was not a serious investigation. Rather, after learning Kyle may have had conservative political viewpoints, they immediately saw him as a convenient target who they could use as a scapegoat to distract from the Jacob Blake shooting and the government’s abject failure to ensure basic law and order to citizens. Within 24-36 hours, he was charged with multiple homicide counts.”
The statement noted that attorneys have delayed an extradition hearing for Rittenhouse until Sept. 25.
“This at least partially slows down the rush to judgment by a government and media that is determined to assassinate his character and destroy his life,” the statement said.
The statement included a comment from Pierce Bainbridge founder John Pierce, who said Rittenhouse was only in Kenosha because “governments have failed, and law-abiding citizens have no choice but to protect their own communities as their forefathers did at Lexington and Concord in 1775.”
In an interview with an independent journalist in Kenosha before the shooting, Rittenhouse said he was on hand only to help protect property and aid the injured.
“If there’s somebody hurt, I’m running into harm’s way,” he said.
I interviewed the alleged shooter before the violence started.
Full video coming soon: pic.twitter.com/G3dVOJozN7
— Richie🎥McG🍿 (@RichieMcGinniss) August 26, 2020
Pierce said Rittenhouse “is not a racist or a white supremacist. He is a brave, patriotic, compassionate law-abiding American who loves his country and his community. He did nothing wrong. He defended himself, which is a fundamental right of all Americans given by God and protected by law. He is now in the crosshairs of institutional forces that are much more powerful than him. But he will stand up to them and fight not only for himself, but for all Americans and their beloved Constitution. We will never leave his side until he is victorious in that fight.”
According to the Journal Constitution, the fundraising website GoFundMe has taken down several pages that were intended to raise money for Rittenhouse’s defense because they violated the company’s terms of service, a GoFundMe spokesman said.
The platform does not allow fundraising for causes it considers are for “the implicit or explicit purpose of or involving for the legal defense of alleged crimes associated with hate, violence, harassment, bullying, discrimination, terrorism, or intolerance of any kind relating to race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, serious disabilities or diseases, financial crimes or crimes of deception,” according to its terms of service.
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