Kyle Rittenhouse hoists beers with Proud Boys at Wisconsin bar

Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, has been charged with fatally shooting two men and injuring a third during protest in Kenosha in late August.
Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, has been charged with fatally shooting two men and injuring a third during protest in Kenosha in late August.

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Prosecutors ask judge to tighten bail restrictions on teen charged in fatal shootings in Kenosha

Kyle Rittenhouse, the teen charged in the fatal shooting of two protesters in Kenosha, Wis., last summer, allegedly went to a bar following his not guilty plea earlier this month, ordered several beers with his mom and posed for photos with members of the Proud Boys as he held up a “white power” hand sign, according to prosecutors.

The 18-year-old Rittenhouse, facing murder and weapons charges but free on a $2 million bond, was drinking Jan. 5 at Pudgy’s Pub in Mount Pleasant, Wis., while wearing a T-shirt that said “Free as F---,” The Washington Post reports, citing images that surfaced last week on social media.

What happened

Court records show Rittenhouse was drinking at the bar with his mother, Wendy Rittenhouse, about 90 minutes after his Jan. 5 remote court hearing, where he pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder.

After becoming aware of the celebratory outing, police went to the bar to view security footage and determine if Rittenhouse had violated any conditions of his bail — but he hadn’t. In Wisconsin, state law allows people under 21 to drink booze at a bar if they are accompanied by a parent.

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The Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office filed a motion on Wednesday asking a judge to reprimand Rittenhouse and ban him from consuming alcohol and from affiliating with “violent white supremacist groups” like the Proud Boys.

“The State of Wisconsin prohibits those under the age of 21 from possessing or consuming alcohol (with some limited exceptions) because underage drinkers are not mature enough to handle alcohol responsibly,” prosecutors said. “Furthermore, the consumption of alcohol increases the likelihood of violent criminal acts.”

The motion also called out that members of the Proud Boys had participated in the Jan. 6 uprising at the U.S. Capitol that left five people dead.

“The defendant’s continued association with members of a group that prides itself on violence, and the use of their symbols, raises the significant possibility of future harm,” prosecutors said in the motion, according to the Post.

What’s in the motion

In the motion, prosecutors noted that Rittenhouse’s family was never required to put up any of their property or money as collateral for his release, according to the Post.

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Prosecutors said the crowd inside the bar “loudly serenaded” Rittenhouse with a rendition of “Proud of Your Boy” — a song originally featured in the Disney movie “Aladdin,” but more recently has been co-opted as the anthem of the Proud Boys, the Post reports.

Kenosha prosecutors have admitted the bar photos of Rittenhouse to the court as evidence.

Kyle Rittenhouse, facing murder and weapons charges in Kenosha, Wis., but free on a $2 million bond, shared drinks with members of the Proud Boys Jan. 5 at Pudgy’s Pub in Mount Pleasant, Wis., and made "white power" signs with his hands, The Washington Post reports, citing images that surfaced last week on social media. Less than two hours before the outing he pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder.
Kyle Rittenhouse, facing murder and weapons charges in Kenosha, Wis., but free on a $2 million bond, shared drinks with members of the Proud Boys Jan. 5 at Pudgy’s Pub in Mount Pleasant, Wis., and made "white power" signs with his hands, The Washington Post reports, citing images that surfaced last week on social media. Less than two hours before the outing he pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder.

The images show Rittenhouse posing with other men at the bar while flashing a hand sign that has been designated a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League.

“In these photographs, the defendant and the other adult males flashed the ‘OK’ sign, which has been co-opted as a sign of ‘white power’ by known white supremacist groups,” prosecutors said.

Prosecutors argue that Rittenhouse’s ties to white nationalists “may serve to intimidate potential witnesses, who may be unwilling to testify in this case because they may fear that the defendant’s associates will harm them or their families.”

For now it’s unclear when the court will consider the motion. A final pretrial hearing in the case is scheduled for March 10, and jury selection is set to begin on March 29, the Post reported.

Previously

Rittenhouse is charged with gunning down two unarmed men and wounding a third during an August 25 protest that erupted in Kenosha after the non-fatal police shooting of Jacob Blake. Last week, Rittenhouse pleaded not guilty the day before a Wisconsin prosecutor declined to file charges against a white police officer who shot Blake seven times in the back, which is what sparked the protests that led to the alleged August shooting by Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time.

After the shooting, video showed Rittenhouse walking toward police officers with his hands raised and the rifle strapped across his chest; but instead of making an arrest police allowed him to leave the scene at the same time frantic eyewitnesses tried to alert them to the crime. Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis later claimed his officers were unaware of the two men laying dead in the road from bullet wounds only yards away.

Rittenhouse surrendered the next day and the teen was released from jail the following November after posting a $2 million bond, which was gained through “internet fundraising” reportedly organized by actor Rick Schroeder.

Rittenhouse, an avid supporter of the police and President Donald Trump, was said to have been driven to Kenosha from his home in Antioch, Illinois, by his mother, reports said. His attorneys argue that he acted in self-defense after he crossed state lines with an AR-15-style rifle to supposedly protect businesses from looters amid the unrest.

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It was later revealed that the gun was purchased with federal coronavirus stimulus funds.

After Rittenhouse’s arrest, far-right groups and conservatives alike, including officials in the Trump’s Homeland Security Department, rallied to the boy’s defense and hailed him as a patriot.

Trump also refused to publicly condemn the shooting, and suggested Rittenhouse had only been defending himself.

U.S. Homeland Security officials were later instructed to express sympathy Rittenhouse when making public statements about the teenager, according to previous reports citing leaked government documents.

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