Kyle Rittenhouse flashed a hand sign adopted by some white supremacist groups and was “loudly serenaded” with a song reportedly adopted by the far-right group the Proud Boys as the 18-year-old drank at a Wisconsin bar last week, prosecutors said in a court filing Wednesday.
Kenosha County prosecutors asked a judge to modify the rules Rittenhouse has to follow while he’s free on $2 million bail as he awaits trial on murder and other charges for shooting three men, two of them fatally, with an AR-15-style rifle during chaotic protests Aug. 25.
The motion asks a judge to ban Rittenhouse from “publicly displaying symbols and gestures that are associated with violent white supremacist groups and from associating with known members of those groups, particularly the Proud Boys.” In support of the request, prosecutors filed several images from bar surveillance cameras showing Rittenhouse flashing the “OK” sign.
Prosecutors also asked a judge to bar Rittenhouse from drinking or going to bars while he’s free.
The motion notes that Rittenhouse went to a bar in Mount Pleasant with his mother, Wendy Rittenhouse. Wisconsin law allows people 18 and over to drink with their parents in taverns. Still, prosecutors asked a judge to ban Rittenhouse from drinking, noting that he recently turned 18 and faces a murder charge.
“The consumption of alcohol increases the likelihood of violent criminal acts,” prosecutors wrote.
The attorney representing Rittenhouse in criminal court, Mark Richards, could not be reached for comment. A lawyer representing Rittenhouse in civil cases, John Pierce, declined to comment.
Rittenhouse has been a popular figure with the political right, and his lawyers appealed to those sympathies as they sought money for his bond. Before Rittenhouse was freed, a chant of “break out Kyle” erupted at pro-President Donald Trump demonstrations in Washington that involved extremist groups including the Proud Boys. They’re a far-right group known for street fights that the Anti-Defamation League characterizes as “misogynistic, Islamophobic, transphobic and anti-immigration,” with some members espousing “white supremacist and anti-Semitic ideologies.”
Pierce has tweeted in support of the Proud Boys leader accused of vandalizing a Black Lives Matter banner at a Black church. Rittenhouse’s lawyers have said the Antioch teenager is not a white supremacist.
Rittenhouse’s appearance at the tavern — in a shirt reading “Free as F—k”— drew notice and condemnation on social media before prosecutors filed their motion.
Upon arrival, Rittenhouse posed with two men while flashing the “OK” sign, which prosecutors described as “co-opted as a symbol of white supremacy/white power.” He posed for several photos while drinking three beers over 90 minutes, prosecutors wrote.
Several men serenaded him with “Proud of Your Boy,” a song written for the Disney animated film “Aladdin” purported to be an anthem for the extremist group.
“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 wrote. “Further, this association may serve to intimidate potential witnesses, who may be unwilling to testify in this case because they may fear that the defendant’s associates with harm them or their families.”
Prosecutors wrote that Rittenhouse’s appearance at the bar came after he pleaded not guilty last week. The charges stem from shootings that came during chaotic demonstrations that followed white Officer Rusten Sheskey shooting Jacob Blake, who is Black, several times in the back at close range. Kenosha County prosecutors announced last week that Sheskey would not be charged.
Rittenhouse’s lawyers have argued he shot the men in self-defense. He fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26. A third man, Gaige Grosskreutz, who prosecutors have said was armed with a handgun, survived the teen shooting him in the arm.