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Family sells ‘Free Kyle Rittenhouse’ merch to fund teen protest shooter’s criminal defense

The family of Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old Illinois boy accused of fatally shooting two people during an August 25 protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, is selling merchandise to cover the teen’s legal fees.

The Washington Post reported that FreeKyleUSA.com, which went live last week, features more than 30 pieces of apparel and accessories ornamented with “Free Kyle” and “Self-defense is a right, not a privilege,” a phrase attributed to the accused killer. A counter on the website states that they have received more than $65,000 in donations from a total of 907 donors.

As of Friday, the merchandise section of the website was empty aside from a message saying they will be back soon.

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John Pierce, an attorney representing Rittenhouse, told the Post that the site is managed by the teen’s family. He also claimed he is not receiving compensation through revenue generated by FreeKyleUSA.com.

“We have to do anything and everything to ensure that he gets the best possible defense, and that is expensive,” he said. “We need to raise as much as we can. So we’re taking any and all measures to raise money.”

Rittenhouse is charged with intentional homicide, attempted homicide, reckless homicide, recklessly endangering safety, and possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18, for allegedly fatally shooting two people during an August 25 shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The teen is also accused of shooting a third person who survived. At the time of the deadly shooting, demonstrators were protesting the officer-related shooting of Jacob Blake.

Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey was investigating a domestic incident when he reportedly shot Blake, 29, seven times in the back as Blake opened the driver’s side door to his SUV. The August 23 officer-involved shooting left Blake partially paralyzed, according to reports.

Rittenhouse allegedly used an AR-15-style to carry out the deadly shooting. Rittenhouse claimed while at the protest, he was hit in the head and neck with a baseball bat and skateboard. While medics reportedly observed superficial scratches on his arm, they did not see any bruising or cuts.

Rittenhouse surrendered to police in Antioch, Illinois, a day after the deadly shooting. In October, a judge ordered Rittenhouse’s extradition to Wisconsin. He was released from custody in late November after posting a $2 million bond.

Days before his release, Rittenhouse’s friend, Dominick Black, 19, was charged with purchasing the gun used in the shooting for him. Black allegedly also confessed to driving Rittenhouse back to Antioch, Illinois, after the shootings with the AR-15-style weapon in the trunk of his car.

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[Featured image: Kyle Rittenhouse/Antioch Police Department]