Prosecutors would very much like Kyle Rittenhouse, charged with killing two Black Lives Matter protesters in August, to not go to bars, flash white power signs, or hang out with members of white supremacist groups or the Proud Boys.
Their request comes after Rittenhouse went to a pub approximately 90 minutes after he pleaded not guilty to charges including first-degree intentional homicide on Jan. 5. While there, he was “loudly serenaded” with what prosecutors described as an “anthem” for the Proud Boys, according to a motion filed Wednesday by the Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office.
(Gavin McInnes was a co-founder of VICE. He left the company in 2008 and has had no involvement since then. He later founded the Proud Boys in 2016.)
Now, prosecutors are trying to modify his bail agreement to keep him from repeating the alleged behavior. In their motion, prosecutors requested that the court, as a condition of Rittenhouse’s bail, prohibit him from possessing or consuming alcohol or going to establishments where alcohol is served, making public displays of “white power” or “white supremacy” hand gestures or symbols, and having contact with “any known militia members or known members of any violent white power/white supremacist groups or organizations,” including the Proud Boys.
Rittenhouse was arrested and charged with allegedly shooting two people and wounding a third during an Aug. 25 demonstration in Kenosha over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man. Rittenhouse said at the time that he was there to protect property and businesses, according to the New York Times. In November, he posted his $2 million bail and was released from custody.
Rittenhouse was seen at a Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, bar called Pudgy’s Pub on Jan. 5, clad in a “Free as F--k” tee-shirt, according to prosecutors. Local law enforcement was notified, according to the motion filed Wednesday, and surveillance footage “was later retrieved and reviewed.” Photos of Rittenhouse at the bar also circulated widely on social media.
At the pub, prosecutors say Rittenhouse threw up the “OK” hand gesture in photographs—a symbol co-opted by right-wing trolls and white supremacists—and hung out with men who sang a song commonly associated with the Proud Boys, a far-right street-fighting gang whose members appeared at the Capitol Hill insurrection the following day.
“Within a few minutes of entering the bar, the defendant was loudly serenaded by 5 of the adult males in his group with the song ‘Proud of Your Boy,’ which is an obscure song written for the 1992 Disney film ‘Aladdin,’” prosecutors wrote. “The violent white supremacist group called the ‘Proud Boys’ was named after this song, which is sung by its members as an anthem and for self-identification.”
Rittenhouse, who has been hailed as a hero by some on the far right, was at the pub with his mom and “several other adults,” and proceeded to down three beers, prosecutors said. It’s legal for underage people in Wisconsin to carry or drink alcohol so long as they’re with a parent, according to NBC News.
The prosecutors’ motion suggests the “several other adults” with Rittenhouse and his mother were Proud Boys members, stating that Rittenhouse “remained with these ‘Proud Boys’ for the entire time he was in the bar.”
Enrique Tarrio, the self-styled chairman of the Proud Boys, denied that his organization is in contact with Rittenhouse in a statement to VICE News. (Tarrio was arrested last week on misdemeanor charges of destruction of property and possession of two high-capacity firearm magazines, according to the New York Times.)
“Although we support him and his case, ProudBoys have no contact with Kyle,” Tarrio wrote in an email. “As per the ‘serenade’ I find this to be extremely hilarious. The Washington Post is accusing Kyle of listening to a Disney song? I'm sure given the state of the democratic party this will be a criminal offense at some point. We wish Kyle the best and we are rooting for him. He has become an American hero and we look forward to celebrating his exoneration with a beer.”
As of Thursday morning, a hearing hadn’t been set for prosecutors’ request to amend Rittenhouse’s bail terms.
“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 in the motion Wednesday.
John Pierce, a Los Angeles-based attorney who is leading fundraising efforts for Rittenhouse, has threatened to sue people for defamation for suggesting Rittenhouse is a white supremacist, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Rittenhouse’s legal team has insisted he acted in self defense during the alleged summer shootings.
Rittenhouse’s attorney, when asked for comment, noted a response to the prosecutors’ motion was filed with a Kenosha County court Thursday morning, but otherwise didn’t provide a statement or a copy of the response. VICE News has requested, but has not received a copy of the response with the court.
Local news outlet Madison.com reported that in the response, defense attorney Mark Richard said that Rittenhouse “is not currently and has never been a member” of the Proud Boys, and that the state’s actions filing the motion were “a not-so-thinly veiled attempt to inject the issue of race into a case that is about a person’s right to self defense.”
A phone number associated with Pudgy’s Pub, the Mount Pleasant bar where Rittenhouse was photographed, returned only a busy signal; the bar did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment via Facebook Messenger.