Following the not guilty verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse shooting case, far-right groups and individuals have started reacting—some celebrating, others calling to take up arms.
For example, on Friday, Gab–the so-called free speech social network that is popular on the far-right–reportedly sent out an email encouraging followers to “buy firearms and form Christian militias,” reported Alex Kaplan, a researcher with the left-leaning watchdog group Media Matters.
A channel for the far-right group, the Proud Boys, on the chat application Telegram included one commenter writing, “There’s still a chance for this country,” NPR reported. In another channel, a member wrote, “The left wont stop until their bodied get stacked up like cord wood.”
VDare–a racist, anti-immigration website associated with several prominent white supremacists and alt-right leaders–called Rittenhouse “the hero we’ve been waiting for throughout the turbulent summer of 2020, where a Black Lives Matter/Antifa/Bolshevik revolution has out country on the bring of total chaos,” according to Michael Hayden, a researchers with the anti-hate watchdog group the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Images of Rittenhouse surrounded by Nazi symbols have also appeared on channels on Gab, Telegram and Discord, Buzzfeed News reported. The channels where these images were found are popular with QAnon conspiracy theorists, militant groups and other white supremacists.
On Friday, some far-right extremist groups on Telegram called for armed citizens to march the streets in a show of force.
In a Friday evening tweet, Republican Arizona Representative Paul Gosar published a poll with the question, “Should #KyleRittenhouse get a congressional Medal of Honor for selflessly protecting the lives and property of the people from an armed mob of arsonists and criminals?” The poll’s two possible responses were “Yes” and “Yes again”.
Alex Newhouse, deputy director at the Middlebury Institute’s Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism, told Insider, “Rittenhouse’s acquittal has already been adopted as a justification for future violence. Many see it as a blank check to use violence at leftist protests, others see it as a spark in a coming civil or race war.”
A jury found Rittenhouse not guilty of first-degree intentional homicide and other charges Friday in the deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber. Rittenhouse shot and killed the men in Kenosha, Wisconsin on August 25, 2020, during a protest following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Rittenhouse was also found not guilty of attempted first-degree intentional homicide in the shooting of Gaige Grosskreutz. Rittenhouse said he shot the men in self-defense.