All The Cool Cops Dig Accused Teen Vigilante Kyle Rittenhouse
Kyle Rittenhouse is the teenager charged with killing two people and seriously injuring a third during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after police shot Jacob Blake in the back. Blake's assailant is back on the beat, and Rittenhouse is free on bail thanks to the kindness of supporters who are no longer strangers.
We already knew the conservative celebrities wrote big checks for Rittenhouse, but a recent data breach at a Christian crowdfunding website revealed a disturbing number of police officers and public officials also donated to Rittenhouse's get-out-of-jail free fund.
The breach, shared with journalists by transparency group Distributed Denial of Secrets, revealed the details of some donors who had previously attempted to conceal their identities using GiveSendGo's anonymity feature, but whose identifying details the website preserved. [...]
Rittenhouse, who became a cause célèbre across conservative media throughout late 2020, and was even supported by then president Donald Trump, held a fundraiser on GiveSendGo billed as a contribution to his legal defense. According to data from the site, he raised $586,940 between 27 August last year and 7 January .
Among the donors were several associated with email addresses traceable to police and other public officials.
The Norfolk, Virginia, police department is currently investigating Sgt. William Kelly, who donated a whopping $25 to Rittenhouse's defense in September. Kelly believed the donation was anonymous but he used his official email address because he's a genius, we guess.
Kelly's alleged donation included this comment: "God bless. Thank you for your courage. Keep your head up. You've done nothing wrong." (It reminds me of the notes my wife received when we got engaged.) He even went so far as to declare, "Every rank and file police officer supports you. Don't be discouraged by actions of the political class of law enforcement leadership."
Rittenhouse wasn't caught shoplifting or even in possession of a counterfeit $20. He was a minor in illegal possession of an AR-15, and he's charged with using it to kill two human beings, Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber. He's also charged with permanently separated Gaige Grosskreutz from his bicep. Rittenhouse was in the wrong. This is not a complex matter. He crossed state lines looking for trouble, but Kelly is celebrating his vigilantism like the kid's Batman.
I don't expect the police to support protesters at a Black Lives Matter rally, but you'd think, at the very least, they'd oppose amateurs horning in on their action. It implies the Kenosha police didn't have what it takes to gun down protesters themselves.
Kelly has served on the Norfolk PD for 18 years and was the executive officer of NPD's internal affairs division for the past two months. Yes, he was in charge of investigating police misconduct. This is why cynics like myself believe police reform is impossible.
If true, Kelly has got to go. If we are going to repair and strengthen the fragile relationship between our communi… https://t.co/XRtYZm70Hg— Jay Jones (@Jay Jones)1618597807.0
Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone released a statement Friday saying Kelly was reassigned without actually saying Kelly's name. It was incredibly vague, as if he was anticipating issues with more officers, so he just prepared a general boilerplate statement:
"As the Chief of Police, I will continue to lead the women and men of this department to be accountable to our vision and values. I also empathetically recognize how recent events have heightened the fears of those we serve for themselves personally and for their loved ones. The law enforcement profession is facing a difficult juncture as recent events have revealed the significance of courageous police leadership to hold officers accountable through due process who violate department policies. I am aware of the allegations leveraged against an officer of this department and have directed an administrative investigation to ensure department policies and procedures were not violated."
Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander called Kelly's alleged donation "alarming and by all means not consistent with the values of our city or the standards set for our employees." Norfolk Delegate Jay Jones, who's running for attorney general, actually drew blood and called out Kelly by name.
"We have to get to the bottom of this reported conduct, which is utterly disgusting. If these allegations are true, Officer Kelly must resign from the Norfolk Police Department immediately. Should he not resign, he must be terminated. Kelly's actions have broken the public's trust and emboldened the worst elements in our society."
It's hard enough holding cops accountable for shooting people, so firing a cop who funds teen vigilantes seems an uphill battle. But on the rare chance Kelly is fired, he can likely benefit from the same network of scumbag sympathizers.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."