Kyle Rittenhouse’s legal team say they will sue Joe Biden over ‘white supremacist’ ad

Andrew Naughtie
·3 min read
Kyle Rittenhouse's name displayed at a Proud Boys rally in Oregon (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Kyle Rittenhouse's name displayed at a Proud Boys rally in Oregon (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

A group of lawyers representing Kyle Rittenhouse, who allegedly shot two people dead in Kenosha, Wisconsin this summer, say they will sue Joe Biden for libel after his campaign included Rittenhouse in a video montage of “white supremacists”.

The row comes as Mr Biden lays into Donald Trump for declining to condemn white supremacy at the first presidential TV debate – and for telling the extremist Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by”.

The Biden campaign’s video intercuts Mr Trump’s comments with footage from violent and threatening events featuring white power groups and militias, including the infamous 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, with Rittenhouse making a brief appearance as the video alludes to the events in Kenosha.

Various of the lawyers involved in Rittenhouse’s defence and the nascent libel action have tweeted their opinions about the Biden campaign’s video. “Formal demand for public retraction is being prepared for Biden/Harris Campaign on behalf of Kyle Rittenhouse,” wrote lead lawyer Lin Wood. “I also hereby demand that @JoeBiden immediately retract his false accusation that Kyle is a white supremacist & militia member responsible for violence in Kenosha.”

Rittenhouse arrived at the Kenosha protest on 23 August armed with an assault-style weapon, joining self-proclaimed “militiamen” who arrived in the city ostensibly to assist law enforcement in keeping the peace against anti-racist protesters.

Seen earlier in the evening mingling with other gun-toting white militiamen as well as police officers, Rittenhouse was later involved in a brawl in the street that ended with two people shot dead. He walked away from the scene without police interference, but was later arrested in his home state of Illinois and charged with the two killings.

The scuffle that led to the two protesters’ deaths was caught on camera, and has been turned into a short “documentary” by FightBack – the not-for-profit group set up by Mr Wood to defend Rittenhouse. The group has been soliciting donations, and has so far received more than $2m.

Since Rittenhouse was arrested and charged, he has become something of a hero among many on the right, from mainstream supporters of Donald Trump to more extremist groups. A recent Proud Boys rally in Portland saw many attendees carrying signs reading “Free Kyle Now”, while Fox News host Tucker Carlson recently showed a clip from FightBack’s footage as part of a segment promoting the theory that Rittenhouse fired in self-defence.

Other right-wing figures defending Rittenhouse include the president’s son, Donald J. Trump Jr., who said in an interview promoting his latest book that Rittenhouse’s actions should be put in perspective given his age.

“If I put myself in Kyle Rittenhouse['s shoes],” he said in an interview, “maybe I shouldn't have been there. He's a young kid. I don't want young kids running around the streets with AR-15s… Maybe I wouldn't have put myself in that situation — who knows? We all do stupid things at 17.”

The Independent has contacted FightBack for comment.

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