A conservative student group is receiving backlash for fundraising for the legal defense of the 17-year-old so-called “vigilante” accused of killing two and injuring at least one person at a protest on Tuesday in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Conservative Republicans United (CRU), a group at Arizona State University, launched its fundraiser Thursday night and announced that half of the funds raised during the semester will go toward paying for the legal defense of Kyle Rittenhouse, who was charged with first-degree murder.
The protest took place after police shot Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, seven times in the back. Blake was left paralyzed from the waist down as a result of his injuries.
The group coming to Rittenhouse’s defense claims that the 17-year-old is not a “vigilante” but a “citizen who attempted to help a city in chaos.”
“He does not deserve to have his entire life destroyed because of the actions of violent anarchists during a lawless riot,” the group tweeted on Thursday.
The fundraiser has since received widespread backlash from other university students and was denounced by the school’s main Republican student organization, ASU College Republicans.
In a statement released Saturday night, the organization condemned the operation of CRU and said it “refuses to legitimize those possessing radical, Anti-American views.” The group is also calling for the university to launch an investigation into the organization’s fundraiser and operations.
“We do not associate with nor condone the recent actions involving the legal defense fund of a man who shot and killed several Americans in Wisconsin,” ASU College Republicans said.
In the press release, the student organization also accused CRU of “a history of blatantly racist and anti-semitic conduct.” Another political student group at ASU, College Libertarians, made a similar accusation via Twitter.
Multiple students tweeted throughout the weekend asking the university to condemn the group’s fundraiser. The university also acknowledged the fundraiser and said it’s meeting with CRU to “learn more about their decision,” according to an interview with the Arizona Republic.
“While there is no policy prohibiting student groups from raising funds for a cause such as this, ASU does not endorse or support this effort,” university officials tweeted on Saturday.
As of Monday, Rittenhouse remains in custody after being arrested at his home in Illinois the day after the killings.
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*First Published: Aug 31, 2020, 2:09 pm
Angelica Arinze is an editorial intern for the Daily Dot and a third-year journalism student at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the director of the Daily Texan’s diversity and inclusion board and involved with the National Association of Black Journalists and BlackPrint, UT’s Black interest publication.