New York — Kyle Rittenhouse, whoof charges stemming from killing two men and wounding another during the unrest that followed the shooting of a Black man by a white police officer, says in a new interview that he's "not a racist person" and supports the Black Lives Matter movement.
"This case has nothing to do with race. It never had anything to do with race. It had to do with the right to self-defense," the 18-year-old tells Fox News host Tucker Carlson in an interview set to air Monday night. Rittenhouse is white, as were the men he shot.
"I'm not a racist person. I support the BLM movement, I support peacefully demonstrating," Rittenhouse tells Carlson in excerpts of the interview released by Fox News ahead of its airing.
"The jury reached the correct verdict -- self-defense is not illegal," Rittenhouse said, according to Agence France-Presse. "I'm glad that everything went well. ... We made it through the hard part."
A spokesman for the Rittenhouse family, David Hancock, told CBS Milwaukee affiliate WDJT-TV Rittenhouse is ready to move on and be a free 18-year-old man.
Hancock said Rittenhouse was "dragged through the mud" with lies this past year, adding that he's a caring, empathetic and civic-minded young man.
"He's got some things to say and I think ... you're going to be even more surprised by who Kyle actually is, (the) more people get to know him better," Hancock said.
Rittenhouse was 17 last year when he traveled 20 miles from his home in Antioch, Illinois, to Kenosha, Wisconsin, which had been racked with protests in the wake of the Aug. 23 shooting of Jacob Blake. That shooting and the response in Kenosha - protests that turned destructive - became part of thefollowing George Floyd's death in Minneapolis the previous May at the hands of police.
Rittenhouse, armed with an AR-style semiautomatic rifle, joined others who said they were intent on protecting private property from potential damage on Aug. 25. During his trial, prosecutors argued that the teenager was a "wannabe soldier" who went looking for trouble that night. Rittenhouse countered that he fired in self-defense after he was attacked and was in fear for his life.
The shootings quickly made Rittenhouse a rallying cry for supporters of Second Amendment rights and those angered by the sometimes violent protests seen in some American cities after Floyd's death.
Rittenhouse was photographed in a bar before the trial with apparent members of the far-right Proud Boys. Rittenhouse's attorneys have said he is not a white supremacist.
A jury last Friday found Rittenhouse not guilty on charges of homicide, attempted homicide and reckless endangering in the deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and the wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz, now 28.
In an, NAACP president and CEO Derrick Johnson said the trial was a "warning shot" for Black communities that "vigilante justice" can be allowed in this country or "in particular communities."
"It's hard for African-Americans to reconcile what we witnessed in that trial. We have far too many individuals sitting in jail for crimes they didn't commit or overcharged for crimes that were committed," Johnson said.
He said the "current political environment" and former President Trump's administration "opened the door" for the case to become politicized.
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