Kyle Rittenhouse’s Defense Called a Livestreamer Who Rages About ‘Antifa’

In one of their final acts, Rittenhouse’s lawyers called a man known for his right-leaning coverage of protests to the stand.
Mack Lamoureux
Toronto, CA
November 11, 2021, 8:42pm
Attorneys representing Kyle Rittenhouse called one of their final witnesses: a political live streamer who makes his living raging about “Antifa.”
Kyle Rittenhouse waits for his trial to begin for the day at the Kenosha County Courthouse. (Photo by Sean Krajacic-Pool/Getty Images)

Attorneys representing Kyle Rittenhouse called one of their final witnesses: a political livestreamer who makes his living raging about “antifa.” 

The defense called Frank “Drew” Hernandez to the stand at the Kenosha County Courthouse Thursday morning. Hernandez is a political commentator and journalist with Real America's Voice, a right-wing news outlet, and his reporting and commentary focuses heavily on “antifa” and rioters. 

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Rittenhouse, 18, is accused of murdering Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz, during a night of protests in August 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin, two days after a cop shot and partially paralyzed a Black man there. He’s also facing several additional firearms charges. Rittenhouse’s attorneys are arguing that he acted in self-defense. On Wednesday, Rittenhouse broke down in tears while discussing what happened.  

Hernandez, like other riot livestreamers, was at Kenosha that night and caught video of Rittenhouse, then 17, shooting and killing Rosenbaum with an AR-15-style rifle.  

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Frank "Drew" Hernandez testifies during Kyle Rittenhouse's trial. (Photo by Sean Krajacic-Pool/Getty Images)

The defense attempted to use Hernandez to further cement the idea that Rosenbaum was acting erratically on the night he was killed, and that Rittenhouse had a reason to fear him. The defense saw a video taken by Hernandez that showed the moments just before the killings. They also saw video clips of Rosenbaum from earlier in the night where he appeared to be acting aggressively, at one point pushing a burning dumpster through the street. 

During the questioning, Hernandez used the term “antifa” to describe the protesters and repeatedly described the protests as a riot. He also spoke about good deeds he said he saw Rittenhouse doing during the evening (video of this was not shown during the trial). 

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A story in the Intercept earlier this year described Hernandez as a member of the Riot Squad, a tight-knit group of journalists who travel from protest to protest filming and livestreaming. These journalists, Hernandez included, produce the majority of viral videos of violence from the protests that are relentlessly used by right-wing media to spin the narrative that social justice protests are just meaningless rioting. They’ve been accused of deceptive editing and stripping nuance from videos to leave viewers with a manipulated impression of the scene. 

Assistant DA Thomas Binger accused Hernandez of posting videos and comments that aided Rittenhouse and made disparaging remarks about Rosenbaum on social media. Binger attempted to bring up the political leanings of Hernandez’s employer but was told by Judge Schroeder that it didn’t indicate any biases.

“This is not a political trial and I don't know how you would isolate a person's political politics and determine that a person would evaluate the evidence one way or another,” said Schroeder. 

Outside of the courtroom, the trial has thus far been extremely polarizing politically. On the left, Rittenhouse is seen as a vigilante who was out for blood in Kenosha that evening. On the right, he’s becoming a political celebrity who defended himself in the midst of an unruly mob. In some far-right corners, Rittenhouse is actively treated as a hero.

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Binger brought up Hernandez’s description of himself as both a professional commentator and journalist and asked if it was “in your practice as a journalist to inject your personal opinion into the stories you’re reporting on.” 

This wasn't the first time someone who works for a right-leaning news outlet testified at the trial. On one of the first days of the trial, the jury heard testimony from Richie McGinnis (another member of the so-called Riot Squad), who works for the right-wing Daily Caller. However, prosecution did not call out biases in McGinnis’ testimony, possibly because he never used the term “antifa” or described the protests as “riots” and protesters and “rioters.” 

The trial continues Friday, with the defense and prosecution expected to provide their final arguments.

Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter.

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