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The legal defence of Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager charged with killing two men during the Black Lives Matter protests in the US, is being funded by merchandise.
An online website is selling T-shirts, hoodies, stickers, mugs, iPhone covers and laptop sleeves carrying the phrase ‘Free Kyle’. Some of the clothing items also carry the message ‘self defense is a right not a privilege’.
The 17-year-old is facing two felony charges for intentional homicide in the murders of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26. He is also charged with attempted homicide for injuring 26-year-old Gaige Grosskreutz.
The incidents took place at protests days after police shot a Black man, Jacob Blake, in Wisconsin.
Rittenhouse attended the protests armed with an AR-15 rifles, which his lawyers claim he used in an act of self defence.
The online website also touts similar claims that Rittenhouse attended the protests because he ‘volunteered to help protect local businesses’, Newsweek reports.
It goes on to say that the teenager was ‘attacked’ and was ‘forced to defend his life’.
‘God-given and Constitutional right to self-defense is now on trial in Kenosha, Wisconsin,’ it added.
In November, the case made headlines when it was confirmed that Rittenhouse had been released from Kenosha County Jail in Wisconsin after posting $2 million bail.
The court had set bail at such a high figure because the teen was considered a flight risk, should he get out. Additionally, Rittenhouse faces charges for reckless endangerment and being a minor in possession of a firearm.
The father of Huber said of Rittenhouse at a bail hearing: ‘He was an active shooter, and my son tried to stop him. My son was a hero… and anyone else who says something else, they are dead wrong,’ as Forbes reports.
Rosenbaum, a homeless man, had been discharged from a psychiatric hospital on the day of the protest.
His fiancée Kariann Swart, said, ‘I don’t think there’s any sort of self-defense when there’s an unarmed person in front of you, and you’re holding an assault rifle two feet away’.
Earlier this year, Rittenhouse told The Washington Post: ‘I was going into a place where people had guns and god forbid somebody brought a gun to me and decided to shoot me. Like, I wanted to be protected, which I ended up having to protect myself.’
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