Rittenhouse says he backs BLM, praises the 'most professional' guards at Vernon Hills juvenile center
NEW YORK -- Kyle Rittenhouse, who was acquitted on charges stemming from killing two men and wounding another during the unrest that followed the shooting of a Black man by a white police officer, said in his first interview after his trial that he's "not a racist person" and supports 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-defense," the 18-year-old formerly of Antioch told Fox News host Tucker Carlson in an interview that aired Monday night. Rittenhouse is white, as were the men he shot.
He also lavished praise on the guards at the Robert W. Depke Juvenile Center in Vernon Hills, where he was held for 87 days after his arrest.
Rittenhouse was 17 last year when he traveled 20 miles from his home in Antioch to Kenosha, Wisconsin, which had been racked with protests, some turning destructive, in the wake of the Aug. 23 police shooting of Jacob Blake, who is Black.
Rittenhouse, armed with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle, joined others who said they were intent on protecting private property from potential damage on Aug. 25. During his trial, prosecutors argued that the teenager as a "wannabe soldier" who went looking for trouble that night. Rittenhouse countered that he fired in self-defense after he was attacked and in fear for his life.
"I thought they came to the correct verdict because it wasn't Kyle Rittenhouse on trial in Wisconsin -- it was the right to self-defense on trial," Rittenhouse said in the interview. "And if I was convicted ... no one would ever be privileged to defend their life against attackers."
He said some people, including some who have made threats against him, are "too ignorant to look at the facts."
After the shootings, Rittenhouse said he tried to turn himself in to Kenosha police but was told to go home. He turned himself in to Antioch police about an hour later. He was arrested and soon held at the Depke Center.
"I have to say thank you to them for their professionalism," Rittenhouse told Carlson about the Depke guards. "They were some of the most professional people I ever met. It was amazing. They treated me with respect. They didn't talk down to you like you've seen in some videos. They just treated me like I was a human."
Rittenhouse told Carlson that he wishes the shootings in Kenosha "never would've happened."
"But it did, and we can't change that. But how ... polarized it became is absolutely sickening, like right or left, people using me for a cause that should never have been used as a cause."
Rittenhouse said that his life is different from what he had planned. He said he is taking college prerequisites to become a nurse and hopes to study on campus, but is now also thinking about studying law. He plans to move from the Midwest, but is not exactly sure where he will go.
"I'm going to go lay low and live my life and enjoy it," he said.