Kyle Rittenhouse is funding his legal defence team by selling ‘Free Kyle’ merchandise

Matt Mathers
·3 min read
<p>Teenager is accused of shooting dead two people</p> (Associated Press)

Teenager is accused of shooting dead two people

(Associated Press)

Representatives for Kyle Rittenhouse are selling "Free Kyle" branded merchandise to help raise cash for the teenager's defence fund.

A host of items - including gym gear, T-shirts, trousers and hoodies - are for sale via the freekyleusa.com website.

Mr Rittenhouse, 17, is charged with shooting dead two people and injuring a third amid protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August.

Fans of the teenager can also buy a trucker cap for $26.99 or a two-piece bikini priced at $42.99.

Coronavirus face masks, mugs and phone covers are some of the other "self-defense is a right, not a privilege" emblazoned products.

Mr Rittenhouse, of Antioch, Illinois, is charged with killing Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and the attempted murder of Gaige Grosskreutz, also 26, on 25 August.

He crossed state lines reportedly armed with a gun to attend protests taking place in Kenosha, following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, who has been left paralysed after being hit by multiple bullets.

Mark Richards, an attorney for Mr Rittenhouse, claims his client was merely acting in self-defence.

The case has poured fuel on the fire of American debates about race and gun control.

Those who demonstrated against the shooting of Mr Blake paint Mr Rittenhouse as a white vigilante intent on provoking further violence at a time of social unrest.

Meanwhile, gun rights activists and some factions of the Republican Party view him as a "hero", who was merely trying to help law enforcement protect property during protests that were at time violent.

A statement on the freekyleusa.com website says Rittenhouse "volunteered to help protect local businesses".

"Kyle was notified of cars being intentionally lit on fire by a group of rioters bent on chaos," the statement adds.

"He responded to the area with a fire extinguisher, upsetting the violent mob. He was stalked and brutally attacked. Kyle was forced to defend his life."

The teenager's mother, Wendy, thanks those who have already donated to her son's cause.

"Asking for help has never been easy for me, but Kyle and my family really need your help," she said in a statement on the website.

Ms Rittenhouse, a single-mother of three, estimates her son's legal fees will cost an additional $2-$2.5m.

It was not immediately clear how much has been raised for far.

John Pierce, who is representing Rittenhouse in civil cases, said the income from the products on the website would only go to defence costs.

"As I have said repeatedly, yes, all proceeds of FreeKyleUSA.com will be held in trust and controlled by Kyle's mom for defense fees and costs. There is no profit being made," he told Madison.com

It was not immediately clear how much has been raised for far.

Mr Rittenhouse is scheduled to be arraigned 5 January in Kenosha County Circuit Court and faces up to 6 years in prison if found guilty.

With the help of celebrity backers and supporters, he posted a $2m bond on 20 November.

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