Does Kyle Rittenhouse really have a GoFundMe paying his legal fees?
2020 was a rough year, to say the least. It touched everyone in one way or another. Most people didn’t get out unscathed, whether it impacted your business, caused you to lose your job, or hit home with a COVID diagnosis. Outside of the COVID impacts, racial unrest spread through the country as a bright spotlight was shined on police brutality, causing widespread protests that often turned to riots.
One of the most prominent stories from the 2020 civil unrest was that of Kyle Rittenhouse, a teenager who found himself in a dangerous situation with an even more dangerous weapon. After he shot & killed two protestors, his trial began on November 2nd, 2021. However, how did a teenager afford such an expensive defense? Some have pointed to a GoFundMe set up for him.
On August 23rd, 2020, Jacob Blake, an African-American man, was shot four times in the back by a Kenosha police officer after he was tasered. Blake was shot after he opened the door to an SUV and was leaning into the vehicle. He is paralyzed from the waist down.
Protests followed the police shooting as part of the Black Lives Matter movement, which saw a resurgence in the wake of several other high-profile killings by police officers in 2020. The Kenosha protests included rallies, marches, property damage, arson, and clashes with police.
As the protests & riots spun out of control, Rittenhouse claimed to defend himself by firing on three people. Joseph Rosenbaum (36) & Anthony Huber (26) were shot dead, while Gaige Grosskreutz (26) was seriously wounded. The incident caused a myriad of backlash, criticism, and media pressure to charge Rittenhouse with murder.
Rittenhouse trial & defense
Rittenhouse is facing homicide charges and a misdemeanor charge of underage firearm possession. Rittenhouse’s case has become a rallying point for pro-gun groups & conservative pundits who argue the 17-year-old acted in self-defense.
They helped generate the $2 million needed for Rittenhouse’s bail in November and have continued to siphon large amounts of money to different Rittenhouse-related fundraising efforts. A post on @freekyleusa, a social media account linked to the defense fund run by the teen’s mother, Wendy Rittenhouse, says the two different fundraising entities she coordinates have pulled in $464,111 since March 1st.
The fund says it has spent over $360,000 on “case-related expenses” over the past three months, spanning attorneys fees, investigators, legal consultants, subject matter experts, and security. “Kyle Rittenhouse and Wendy want to thank everyone for your support and assistance over the past ten months,” read a separate post from the @freekyleusa account. “Your assistance has been critical.”
Prosecutors & defense lawyers rested their cases in the closely watched homicide trial of Kyle Rittenhouse; the 18-year-old sobbed on the stand as he testified for himself in front of the court. “I didn’t want to have to kill anybody. I was being attacked,” Rittenhouse testified Wednesday, his voice shaking. Closing arguments are set to take place Monday. The jury will likely begin deliberations that afternoon.
Kyle Rittenhouse GoFundMe
GoFundMe removed fundraisers created on its site in support of Kyle Rittenhouse. The famous crowdfunding company told the Washington Times it pulled fundraisers made for the 17-year-old murder suspect and refunded all donations contributed to those campaigns.
GoFundMe said they took down the campaigns for violating its terms of service but did not specify further. Its terms prohibit “activity that GoFundMe may deem in its sole discretion to be unacceptable.” It was not clear how many related campaigns were pulled from GoFundMe or the amount they raised, although the Times found at least three that had together raised at least $1,000.
A campaign for Mr. Rittenhouse created on rival crowdfunding site Fundly raised more than $50,000 within several hours Wednesday meanwhile but subsequently disappeared as well.