Prosecutors will not be permitted to argue that Kyle Rittenhouse, a man who fatally shot two people during the Jacob Blake protest in Wisconsin, is linked to the Proud Boys, a white nationalist group. On Friday (Sept. 17), Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder made the ruling, which marked a small victory for Rittenhouse. Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger hoped to show that he was a “chaos tourist” who was drawn to Kenosha like “a moth to a flame.”
Binger stated that he should be allowed to argue that the accused shooter adopted philosophies from the Proud Boys and was looking to start trouble during the protests.
“Most everyone there was there because of their beliefs, one way or the other, in regards to the shooting of Jacob Blake,” the assistant district attorney said. “Chaos tourists like the defendant were drawn like a moth to the flame to our community. He was drawn to this incident because of his beliefs, which align with the Proud Boys. They take pride in using violence to achieve their means.”
However, Rittenhouse’s attorney Cory Chirafisi argued that there was no evidence to support Binger’s claim. He also pointed out that all three men his client shot were white. “There is nothing in this evidence that would support that the shootings were race-based,” he said. “We are hoping to try this case on the facts.”
Schroeder agreed, saying there was no way to prove Rittenhouse knew the people he met at a local bar were members of the Proud Boys and he could have just been happy to take photos with his supporters.
“I certainly would keep the door open if you can show that there is any connection between the defendant on the day in question and this organization,” Schroeder said. “But as I said before, if this organization embraces the defendant after the fact because he’s lionized because of his behavior, that is not something that the jury can make anything out of that would be lawful.”
Rittenhouse is facing several charges, including first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide and two counts of reckless endangerment. He also faces a misdemeanor count of being a minor in possession of a firearm. His trial is set to begin on Nov. 1.