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Prosecutors Seek to Ban Kyle Rittenhouse From Bars After Photos Emerge

Citing use of hand signals associated with white-power groups, a Kenosha prosecutor requested bond modification for Rittenhouse banning him from going to bars and contacting known militia members or white supremacists.

KENOSHA, Wis. (CN) — A Wisconsin lawyer representing an Illinois teenager charged with shooting three people and killing two at a protest in Wisconsin last August said Thursday his client does not object to amending the conditions of his bond to ban him from consuming alcohol or being in contact with members of white supremacist groups.

Racine-based attorney Mark Richards said in a response filed with Kenosha County Circuit Court on Thursday that Kyle Rittenhouse does not object to bond modifications proposed on Wednesday by Kenosha prosecutors. 

But he called the motion “a not-so-thinly veiled attempt to interject the issue of race into a case that is about a person’s right to self-defense.”

Richards affirmed, however, that since Rittenhouse has no affiliation with any white supremacist groups, the teenager would not object to being barred from having knowing contact with any hate groups or their members. 

Richards’ law firm, Richards & Dimmer, declined to offer any additional comment on the state’s motion for bond modification on Thursday.

Prosecutors say Rittenhouse, then 17, crossed state lines from his home in Antioch, Illinois, and shot protesters Gaige Grosskreutz, Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum with an AR-15 just before midnight in Kenosha on Aug. 25. The three victims were engaged in protests that raged for several days after a white Kenosha police officer shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, seven times while responding to a domestic disturbance.

Dozens of cars and businesses were set ablaze during the violent unrest in Kenosha in late August. Rittenhouse reportedly joined the fray as a self-styled vigilante on the night of the shootings.

Rosenbaum, 36, and Huber, 26, were killed in the protests while 26-year-old Gaige Grosskreutz survived a gunshot wound to his right bicep. Grosskreutz and Huber’s family filed negligence claims against the city of Kenosha, Kenosha County, the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department and others earlier this month, seeking a combined $20 million in damages.

Rittenhouse’s lawyers and conservative supporters have painted the protest shooting as self-defense and his prosecution as a leftist political smear.

Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger filed the bond modification motion on Wednesday after reviewing video surveillance from Pudgy’s Pub in nearby Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, showing Rittenhouse on Jan. 5 posing for photographs with two bar patrons and flashing the “OK” hand signal, which has been co-opted by some white supremacists.

According to the state’s motion, the 18-year-old visited the bar with his mother about 90 minutes after he pleaded not guilty to all charges against him at his virtual arraignment, which include first-degree murder. 

A recently added charge for failure to abide by a curfew in place on Aug. 25 brings the total to seven, five of which are felonies, including first-degree intentional homicide and first-degree reckless homicide.

Also on Jan. 5, Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley announced there would be no criminal charges brought against either Officer Rusten Sheskey for shooting Blake or the two officers who accompanied him on the initial domestic disturbance call for their role in the shooting.

Binger’s motion to modify Rittenhouse’s bond conditions says Rittenhouse consumed three beers at Pudgy’s over the course of 90 minutes while fraternizing with other patrons. The drinking age in Wisconsin is 21, but state law allows 18-year-olds to be served alcohol as long as they are accompanied by a parent or guardian of legal drinking age.

During his visit to Pudgy’s, Binger says Rittenhouse was “loudly serenaded” by five adult males at the bar with the song “Proud of Your Boy,” which Broadway producers resurrected from the cutting room floor of Disney's “Aladdin” when the animated feature was adapted as a musical in 2011. Binger’s motion states that “the violent white supremacist group the ‘Proud Boys’ was named after this song, which is sung by its members as an anthem and for self-identification."

The motion formally asks that Judge Bruce Schroeder prohibit Rittenhouse from possessing or consuming alcohol, going to bars, making any public display of white supremacist signs, symbols or hand gestures and having contact with any known militia members or members of any violent white-power groups.

Binger cited concerns that alcohol consumption can increase aggression and lead to violent behavior, which should be considered given the violent nature of the crimes with which Rittenhouse is charged.

The Proud Boys have been involved in violent extremist rallies and multiple members have been arrested for assaultive crimes, Binger’s motion says. Members of the group have also been tied to the violent breach of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 which left five dead, including a Capitol Police officer. 

The group, Binger notes, has been designated as a violent, male-only white supremacist group by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Canada is considering designating them as a terrorist organization.

Rittenhouse, who was freed from Kenosha County Jail in November on a $2 million bond largely fundraised by the right-leaning defense outfit #FightBackFoundation, wore a T-shirt that read “Free as F*ck” while drinking at Pudgy’s, as seen in pictures featured in Binger’s affidavit accompanying the state’s motion.

The teen has a pretrial conference with Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder scheduled for March 10 and jury selection for his trial slated for March 29.

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