Home News Outcry as Kyle Rittenhouse sits down for Tucker Carlson Fox News interview

Outcry as Kyle Rittenhouse sits down for Tucker Carlson Fox News interview

by Mikael Harris

Kyle Rittenhouse sat down for his first interview since being cleared of homicide on Monday night, speaking with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson in a segment that sparked a fresh round of controversy after the teen said he was “not a racist person” and supported the Black Lives Matter movement.

Rittenhouse, 18, was acquitted on Friday on charges stemming from killing two men and wounding another during unrest after the shooting of a Black man by a white police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year. Rittenhouse is white, as were the men he shot.

In a nearly hour-long interview aired on Monday, Rittenhouse recounted his version the night in Kenosha when he shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, now 28. He said the case was fundamentally about self-defense and denounced lawmakers and the media who he claimed had unfairly politicized the trial.

“This case has nothing to do with race,” Rittenhouse told Tucker Carlson. “It never had anything to do with race. It had to do with the right to self-defense.”

Rittenhouse has attracted support from conservative groups and lawmakers, some of whom, on the far right of the Republican party, have celebrated his acquittal and offered him internships. On Sunday, Christina Pushaw, press officer for the Republican governor Ron DeSantis, welcomed Rittenhouse to the “free state” of Florida in a tweet.

Before his trial, Rittenhouse was photographed in a bar with apparent members of the far-right Proud Boys, where he is alleged to have flashed white power hand signs. While his attorneys have insisted Rittenhouse is not a white supremacist, others have said otherwise.

On Saturday, the MSNBC host Tiffany Cross said: “The fact that white supremacists roam the halls of Congress freely and celebrate this little murderous white supremacist, and the fact that he gets to walk the streets freely, it lets you know these people have access to instituting laws, they represent the legislative branch of this country.”

The civil rights attorney Ben Crump was equally scathing following Friday’s verdict.

“If we were talking about a Black man,” he said, “the conversation and outcome would be starkly different. But we’re not. We’re talking about Kyle Rittenhouse, a racist, homicidal vigilante who, like so many white men before him, not only escaped accountability but laughed in its face.”

Speaking to Carlson, who also made a documentary on the case, Rittenhouse said: “I’m not a racist person. I support the BLM movement, I support peacefully demonstrating.”

Rittenhouse attacked state prosecutors, claiming they had “taken advantage” of him.

“I believe there needs to be change,” he said. “I believe there’s a lot of prosecutorial misconduct, not just in my case but in other cases. It’s just amazing to see how much a prosecutor can take advantage of someone.”

Rittenhouse also criticized coverage of the trial, saying: “I’ve never seen something so polarizing in my life … this wasn’t a political case. It was made a political case.”

The 18-year-old claimed he had spent time in a jail cell “without running water” and went weeks without showering. He said he was now focused on attending college and eventually wants to become a nurse or a lawyer.

Rittenhouse’s lawyer, Mark Richards, told CNN he “did not approve” of Carlson filming a documentary with Rittenhouse, and “threw [the film crew] out of the room several times”.

“I don’t think a film crew is appropriate for something like this,” Richards said.

Rittenhouse was 17 when he traveled 20 miles from his home in Antioch, Illinois, to Kenosha, in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake on 23 August last year. That shooting, and the protests in Kenosha, became part of a national reckoning over police use of force against Black people, after the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in May.

Rittenhouse was armed with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle when he joined others who said they were intent on protecting private property two days after Blake was shot.

Prosecutors painted the teenager as a “wannabe soldier” who went looking for trouble. Rittenhouse claimed he was attacked and in fear for his life. A jury found him not guilty on charges of homicide, attempted homicide and reckless endangering in the deaths of Rosenbaum, and Huber.

Derrick Johnson, the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), said the verdict was hard for Black Americans to take.

“Here you have a 17-year-old who illegally purchased a gun, traveled across state lines to protect property that was not his, for owners who did not invite him, and he put himself in harm’s way based on the rhetoric that he’s seen on social media platforms,” Johnson told CBS’s Face the Nation.

He called the verdict “a warning shot that vigilante justice is allowed in this country or in particular communities”.

On Sunday, several dozen protesters gathered at Kenosha’s Civic Center Park. Marchers traced the route Rittenhouse took, carrying signs that said “Reject racist vigilante terror” and “The whole system is guilty!”

Protesters chanted, “No justice, no peace” and “Anthony and Jo Jo”. A couple carried long guns.

The Rev Jesse Jackson, 80, was scheduled to appear but did not. Organizers said he was working with congressional leaders to ask that the Department of Justice investigate further prosecution. A release from Jackson’s Rainbow Push Coalition said the justice department should consider aiding and abetting charges for Rittenhouse’s mother.

“The verdict of not guilty is very revealing of the state of criminal justice in America,” Bishop Grant, the Rainbow Push Coalition national field director, said in a statement.

Source : The Guardian

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