A new investigation from The Guardian shows police and other public officials have been financially contributing to the legal defence of Kyle Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old “Kenosha shooter” and rightwing icon currently on trial for killing the deaths of two people.
Rittenhouse became infamous last winter after travelling from his home in Illinois to Kenosha, Wisconsin, where he disastrously inserted himself into the local political turmoil inspired by a police-involved shooting and ended up killing two people with an AR-15 style rifle.
A recent data breach involving the Christian crowdfunding platform GiveSendGo shows just how much online support the shooter would appear to have in rightwing circles — including some members of the U.S.’s law enforcement community. Using the platform, Rittenhouse raised upwards of half a million dollars over a period of several months — clearing $US586,940 ($758,737) between last August and early January of this year. A certain number of those contributions apparently came from police and other public officials spread throughout the country.
According to The Guardian, the data appears to have included internal comments provided by contributors: “God bless. Thank you for your courage. Keep your head up. You’ve done nothing wrong,” said an internal affairs officer with the Norfolk police department in Virginia, chipping in $US25 ($32) to Rittenhouse’s defence. “Every rank and file police officer supports you. Don’t be discouraged by actions of the political class of law enforcement leadership.”
Rittenhouse also apparently received contributions from other public officials — including a city official in Huntsville, Alabama, and an engineer at one of the U.S.’s national laboratories. The report notes that in many cases “the donations were attached” to the contributors’ “official email addresses, raising questions about the use of public resources in supporting such campaigns.” It doesn’t share how much money came specifically from government employees.
Other data reviewed by reporters show substantial support by police for a number of other disgraced law enforcement officials — including Rusten Sheskey, the Kenosha police officer who shot and seriously injured 29-year-old Black man Jacob Blake, thus setting off the local protests that Rittenhouse flew to the state to needlessly involve himself in. A fund for Sheskey apparently raised several thousand dollars, most of which came from “private email addresses associated with Kenosha officers.”
The data leak involving GiveSendGo has shown that the site has raised millions and millions of dollars for far-right figures and groups — including the Proud Boys. The company did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment and we’ll update this post when we receive a reply.