We don’t have to tell you that 2020 has been a very strange year filled with very odd news stories. It’s hard to get surprised by anything anymore, but sometimes it still happens. Like today, for example.
As Justin Wingerter reports for The Denver Post, the Loveland-based National Foundation for Gun Rights (which is associated with the National Association for Gun Rights, or NAGR) announced on Friday that it is raising money for the legal defense of 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who has been charged with murder after killing two people in Kenosha, Wisconsin during this week’s protests over the shooting of Jacob Blake:
Rittenhouse, an admirer of law enforcement and President Donald Trump, is seen as a dangerous vigilante by many but has the support of some prominent figures on the political right who believe he was acting in self-defense.
Dudley Brown, executive director of the National Foundation for Gun Rights, says Rittenhouse was peacefully defending himself and businesses when he was attacked by “Antifa thugs.”
“Kyle was doing his best to protect business owners from losing their entire livelihoods when criminal actors instigated violence against him. Unfortunately for them, Kyle was armed with an AR-15 and their rocks, skateboards and handguns stood no chance against his well-placed shots,” Brown said Friday. [Pols emphasis]
Brown was formerly the executive director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. RMGO and the National Association for Gun Rights were founded on the premise that the National Rifle Association is too liberal and compromising.
“It’s a sad day in America when anti-gun prosecutors want to throw a young man in jail for defending himself against violent attackers,” Brown said. “When we say the Second Amendment is for lawful self-defense, we mean it. Maybe next time rioting thugs will think twice about squaring off against a patriot carrying an AR-15.” [Pols emphasis]
Those vile comments are from the very same Dudley Brown who readers will recognize as the former Executive Director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) in Colorado. Brown recently stepped down as the head of RMGO after a round of stinging defeats in the June Republican Primary in Colorado, but he remains the frontman for NAGR, which has designs on becoming the new National Rifle Association (NRA). Brown has deep connections to many Colorado Republicans, including House Minority Leader Pat Neville and Sen. Cory Gardner (NAGR and RMGO donated at least $6,000 to Gardner’s 2014 Senate campaign).
Brown’s praise of Rittenhouse ignores some critical context here — namely that the alleged shooter traveled from his home in Illinois to Kenosha for the express purpose of getting into an altercation with Black Lives Matter protestors. Rittenhouse has been arrested and charged with killing two people and shooting a third; a judge today delayed an extradition hearing to allow him more time to secure legal counsel (though right-wing legal activists are scrambling to his defense).
As CNN reports, details of the criminal complaint against Rittenhouse portray a young man who is going to have difficulty convincing a jury that this was all in self-defense:
About 11:45 p.m. Tuesday — hours after the 8 p.m. curfew — Rittenhouse was walking down the streets near the car dealership holding what investigators later determined to be “a Smith & Wesson AR-15 style .223 rifle,” the criminal complaint says.
Social media accounts believed to belong to him portray a young White man with an affinity for guns who supports “Blue Lives Matter” and President Donald Trump. A video posted on a Snapchat account believed to belong to him placed him at the scene of protests Tuesday night. The clips show a few seconds of the point of view of someone carrying a long rifle and police announcements can be heard over loudspeakers.
At those demonstrations, the complaint states, Rittenhouse clashed with people gathered near the car dealership for reasons not specified. Rosenbaum was unarmed and threw an object that appeared to be a plastic bag at him and missed, according to the complaint.
Rosenbaum and the suspect moved across the parking lot and appeared to be in close proximity when loud bangs suddenly rang out and Rosenbaum fell to the ground, according to the complaint.
As Rosenbaum lay on the ground, the suspect made a call on his cellphone and said, “I just killed somebody” as he ran away, the complaint alleges. His friend received a call from him at 11:46 p.m. saying that he shot someone, an investigator says in the complaint. [Pols emphasis]
This is a tragic story for so many reasons. The fact that Brown and NAGR would exploit the situation for fundraising purposes is positively evil.