AP reports via the Denver Post that Kyle Rittenhouse, a minor accused of killing two people after crossing from his native Illinois into the state of Wisconsin with an assault rifle during riots over police violence in Kenosha last August, is out on bail:
A 17-year-old from Illinois who is charged with killing two people during a protest in Wisconsin and whose case has become a rallying cry for some conservatives posted $2 million bail Friday and was released from custody.
Kyle Rittenhouse is accused of fatally shooting Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz during a demonstration Aug. 25 that followed the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha. He posted bond through his attorney at about 2 p.m., Kenosha County Sheriff’s Sgt. David Wright said…
His case has taken on political overtones. Supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement have painted Rittenhouse as a trigger-happy white supremacist. Conservatives upset over property destruction during recent protests have portrayed him as a patriot exercising his right to bear arms during unrest. A legal defense fund for him has attracted millions of dollars in donations, and his mother got a standing ovation from women at a Waukesha County GOP function in September.
Right after Rittenhouse’s arrest in August, Colorado’s foremost gun rights activist Dudley Brown of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners announced he was raising funds for Rittenhouse’s legal defense. We don’t know how much of the $2 million bail posted was Dudley’s money, but by September Brown’s National Foundation for Gun Rights (as he calls his fundraising operations outside Colorado) said they had amassed $50,000 on Rittenhouse’s behalf.
Rittenhouse’s case has become a cause celebre for the right wing owing to his tender age and the supposed urgency of his need to cross state lines with an assault rifle and kill people during the Kenosha riots. But the reality is that Rittenhouse’s presence on the streets of Kenosha with his assault rifle was a crime all by itself. The idea that Rittenhouse was somehow justified in traveling out of state into a riot zone with an assault rifle he could not even legally carry is simply ridiculous. As a test case for gun rights, this case is terrible for the gun lobby, but once the movement seized on Rittenhouse as a sympathetic figure these facts were lost in the din.
So what happens next? Well, as AP reports, there is real concern that Rittenhouse will jump bail given the seriousness of the charges he faces–and unfortunately, there is in all likelihood a large network of “law abiding gun owners” happy to assist such a flight from justice. The bail money raised in that event would be disposable, of course, but we suspect most of the donors won’t object.
For the sake of the families of the people Kyle Rittenhouse killed, we hope that doesn’t happen.
If it does, it will easily rank among Dudley Brown’s worst offenses–and that is no small statement.