A Republican student group at Arizona State University is raising money for the 17-year-old gunman who fatally shot two protesters and injured another in Kenosha, Wisconsin. College Republicans United said that half of all funds they raise during the semester will go toward Kyle Rittenhouse’s legal defense. The group, which is not part of the main ASU College Republicans, described the accused murderer as a “community volunteer” and a “citizen who attempted to help in a city of chaos.” In a tweet on Thursday announcing the fundraising plan, College Republicans United tweeted that Rittenhouse “does not deserve to have his entire life destroyed because of the actions of violent anarchists during a lawless riot.”
The tweet sent out by the group links to a page on their website that features a photograph of Rittenhouse cleaning graffiti. The page goes into detail of the two people Rittenhouse allegedly killed and the one he injured. “We do not condone the death of these individuals but take note that these are not model citizens,” the group writes in the fundraising page. When the Arizona Republic contacted the CRU for comment, it was told that its members “do not speak to journalists with pronouns on their Twitter page.” ASU said it was aware of the fundraiser and didn’t endorse it but couldn’t stop any group from raising money. (Disclosure: Slate’s Future Tense section is a collaboration with ASU and New America.)
ASU College Republicans put out a statement condemning CRU, which it described as a “far-right extremist group” that has “radical, anti-American views.” The ASU College Republicans called for a “formal administrative investigation into the conduct and operation” of the group and said that it does not “associate with nor condone their recent actions involving contributing to the legal defense fund of a man who shot and killed several Americans in Wisconsin.”
This is not the first time the CRU has received media attention. The cofounders of the group ended up apologizing last year after materials were made public showing some of the group’s leaders making racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic comments. The information was shared by people who claimed to have been former members of CRU who wanted everyone to know the group was “filled with white nationalists and neo-Nazis posing as principled conservatives and Republicans.”
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