What Did Kyle Really Do?
Illustration: Jared Egusa / Unwoke Narrative
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Hudson Crozier

What Did Kyle Really Do?

During the riots in Kenosha, Winsconsin following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in 2020, three Black Lives Matter supporters were shot by Illinois teenager Kyle Rittenhouse, two of whom died while the third was injured. Kyle now faces multiple charges.

Updated Nov 22: Removed gun possession claim

During the riots in Kenosha, Winsconsin following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in 2020, three Black Lives Matter supporters were shot by Illinois teenager Kyle Rittenhouse, two of whom died while the third was injured. Kyle now faces multiple charges.

Background

According to his own court testimony, Kyle traveled from his home in Illinois to Kenosha to join others in offering civilian assistance to the community during the riots.

Kyle, a fire cadet and member of a police explorer program, had reportedly been seen offering medical assistance, interacting with police, and helping to remove graffiti from a school building while in Kenosha.

While standing armed in front of a business before the violence occurred, he told reporter Richard McGinnis of Daily Caller:

"...people are getting injured, and our job is to protect this business, and a part of my job is to also help people. If there's somebody hurt, I'm running into harm's way. That's why I have my rifle because I need to protect myself, obviously. But I also have my med kit."

Kyle, 17, was too young to be a licensed paramedic even though he claimed to be one. He also had given his adult friend money to buy the rifle for him.

Footage shows Kyle speaking with police before they drive away, after which he stands guard with others in front of a car dealership. Witnesses say the police had cordoned off certain areas of the community that night so that rioters would be diverted away by armed citizens. An officer was heard thanking Kyle for his efforts.

According to the account of Dominick Black, who supplied Kyle with his rifle and was on the roof of the dealership that night, they were tasked by the owner, who had suffered heavy property damage the night before, with making sure no vehicles or other property were damaged or stolen. As Kyle patrolled the car lot on foot, attackers began chasing him.

Confrontation

The first man to attack Kyle was Joseph Rosenbaum, a convicted sex offender who had just been released from a psychiatric hospital hours earlier. Some time before encountering Kyle, he is seen on video starting multiple dumpster fires and taunting an armed man, repeatedly shouting, "shoot me, n----." The second man Kyle shot was Anthony Huber, a serial domestic abuser. The third was Gaige Grosskreutz, who had previously been convicted of carrying a dangerous weapon while intoxicated and was armed that night. We covered all of Kyle’s main attackers’ criminal records in-depth here.

First shooting: Kyle is briefly seen with a fire extinguisher running toward one of the fires. After this, though the motive is still unclear, Rosenbaum begins to chase him. As shown in footage filmed by Richard McGinnis, the chase leads to an area where Kyle’s path is blocked by cars. After an unrelated gunshot occurs nearby, Kyle turns to face Rosenbaum, who, according to McGinnis, tries to grab his rifle.

Kyle fires four shots at Rosenbaum, after which three other shots of unknown origin occur nearby. Kyle pulls out his cellphone to call his friend Dominick, who recalls Kyle anxiously telling him, "I just shot someone." While McGinnis attempts to give medical help to Rosenbaum, Kyle attempts to call 911 for help, but then starts running as several people begin chasing him, shouting, "that’s the shooter!"

Second shooting: As Kyle runs, one man strikes him from behind. A few steps later, Kyle trips and falls. Some are heard shouting, "get his ass!" One man jumps and kicks Kyle, who shoots twice and misses. While still on the ground, Anthony Huber hits Kyle in the head with a skateboard. Kyle shoots him in the chest, killing him.

Third shooting: Finally, while Kyle is still on the ground, Gaige Grosskreutz rushes toward him with a handgun in his right hand. He halts as soon as Kyle aims his rifle at him and puts his hands up, but then darts to the side. Kyle shoots his right arm, disarming and wounding him. Grosskreutz can be heard shouting for a medic as he and everyone else run away.

Aftermath

Footage depicts Kyle walking toward police cars and attempting to turn himself in, but the officers were departing and would not arrest him. He regrouped with Dominick back at the car lot before traveling home to Antioch, Illinois. Dominick describes Kyle as extremely panicked, saying, "I'm going to jail for the rest of my life." He decided to turn himself in to local police the next day.

Kyle later told The Washington Post, "I feel I had to protect myself. I would have died that night if I didn’t."

A friend of Grosskreutz who visited him in the hospital tweeted, "...his only regret was not killing the kid and hesitating to pull the [trigger] before emptying the entire mag into him."

Media Coverage

The mainstream media would not allow Kyle to be seen as merely an overzealous citizen who found himself in a deadly situation, nor as someone with every reason to fear for his life who acted in self-defense. Instead, they attempt to vilify Kyle and many Americans like him with a manipulative narrative.

The Guardian refers to the Kenosha riots as “protests” that were “disrupted” by “armed extremists.” The New Yorker labels Kyle a “vigilante.”

Outlets such as the Journal Times portray Kyle’s attackers as “victims” of a “shooting.”

Wisconsin's largest news publication, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, explaining why they wouldn’t discuss the backgrounds of the attackers, stated, “they are the victims of a shooting, and as far as we can tell their past legal records have no bearing on them being shot at a protest.” Instead, they along with Global News, The New York Times, BuzzFeed, The Chicago Tribune, and others consider it pertinent information that Kyle endorses Donald Trump, police, gun rights, and patriotism, framing him as a practitioner of politically motivated violence and “far-right” extremism against BLM supporters.

The narrative even managed to penetrate law enforcement when a Virginia police officer was fired from the Norfolk Police Department in April for donating $25 to Kyle’s defense fund and commenting, “You’ve done nothing wrong.” The Department called it a “violation of City and departmental policies” and promised to “hold staff accountable.” The police chief involved in the decision has been seen in a photo holding a BLM sign and marching with protestors while in uniform.

Prosecution

Kyle, now 18, is charged with two counts of homicide, attempted homicide, illegal firearm possession, a curfew ticket, and reckless endangerment of the life of Richard McGinnis. Dominick Black is also charged with illegally supplying the rifle.

Like the media, the Wisconsin court has prioritized politics over objectivity. After being released on bond last November thanks to the online “Free Kyle” fund, Kyle was spotted drinking at a bar in January with the right-wing group “Proud Boys,” displaying in photos what prosecutors called a “white power” hand sign. The judge then tightened his bond restrictions by forbidding him association with “hate groups,” despite that the Proud Boys is a racially diverse organization that has even collaborated with Black Lives Matter to publicly denounce white supremacy. Kyle was in no way violating previous restrictions.

The politically loaded trial is set to begin on November 1st.

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Hudson Crozier

Contributor. Hudson is passionate about politics, writing, and his faith. He hopes to lend a hand in the ongoing media revolution.