Kyle Rittenhouse says he's 'not a racist person' in Fox News interview

Teenager says "self-defence is not illegal" in interview with right-wing anchor Tucker Carlson

Kyle Rittenhouse, the US teenager who was acquitted in the fatal shootings of two men during protests last year, said self-defence is "not illegal" in an interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

Last week, a jury found the 18-year-old not guilty of all charges - including reckless and intentional homicide - stemming from the 2020 protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The ruling sparked sporadic protests across the country - from New York to Portland, Oregon - some of which continued into Sunday, but also drew praise from Mr Rittenhouse supporters at the courthouse and gun rights advocates.

"The jury reached the correct verdict - self-defense is not illegal," Mr Rittenhouse said, ahead of the full interview with Fox to be shown on Monday evening and a subsequent documentary scheduled to air in December.

"I'm glad that everything went well... We made it through the hard part."

Mr Rittenhouse's case drew national attention in part because of the nationwide Blacks Lives Matter protests last year. The case also focused heavily on racial tensions, gun rights and vigilantism.

In his interview with the right-wing television host, Mr Rittenhouse said that he is "not a racist person" and backed 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-defence," Mr Rittenhouse said.

“I’m not a racist person. I support the BLM movement; I support peacefully demonstrating."

Mr Rittenhouse was photographed with members of the far-right group Proud Boys at a bar before his trial began.

Protests erupted in Kenosha last year when Jacob Blake, a black man, was shot in the back by a white police officer. The incident became part of national discussion of police brutality against people of colour.

Mr Rittenhouse, carrying an AR-15 rifle, was 17 years old at the time when he travelled to Kenosha to join others, who said they were protecting property during the protests.

Right-wing politicians and commentators have considered Mr Rittenhouse to be a hero - and likely a poster child - for expansive gun rights.

A well-known figure in conservative media, Mr Carlson has often been accused of fanning racial tensions, spreading vaccine misinformation and spreading conspiracy theories.

Two Fox News commentators recently quit the network after the airing of Mr Carlson's special Patriot Purge, a documentary on the January 6 insurrection. The commentators labeled the documentary as "incoherent conspiracy-mongering".

Defence lawyer labels GOP members 'disgusting'

Defence attorney Mark Richards, who represented Mr Rittenhouse during the trial, said Republican politicians who are trying to profit off the teenager's newfound celebrity status are "disgusting".

Republican Congressmen Matt Gaetz and Madison Cawthorn both publicly said they want Mr Rittenhouse to intern for them.

Representative Paul Gosar, who was censured by the US House last week for a violent video, said he would "arm wrestle" Mr Gates to "get dibs for Kyle a an intern".

"They're raising money on it and you have all these Republican congressmen saying come work for me," Mr Rittenhouse told Insider.

"They want to trade on his celebrity and I think it's disgusting."

Mr Richards also chastised Donald Trump Jr for tweeting a gun-rights group would "award" Mr Rittenhouse with an AR-15.

"He's an idiot. I don't have to expand on that because it speaks for itself," Mr Richards said of Mr Trump Jr.

Mr Richards has previously spoken against people carrying AR-15s.

Updated: November 22nd 2021, 8:43 PM
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