TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona State University student groups protesting Kyle Rittenhouse's ties to the school marched Wednesday, nearly coming to blows with his conservative-leaning supporters.
Around 100 people rallied on the suburban Phoenix campus to urge the university to disavow the 18-year-old, who was acquitted of murder in November in deadly shootings during last year's unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin. They walked to the administration office chanting phrases like “Killer Kyle off our campus.”
Zein Hajaig, a freshman, was among those in the rally. For him, it doesn't matter that Rittenhouse is “legally not a murderer.”
“I don’t think anyone with a prior charge of those sorts would even be able to attend here,” Hajaig said. “I think we all know it goes without saying he was there to intimidate and hurt people of color or people who are supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.”
Rittenhouse testified that he acted in self-defense when he killed two men and wounded a third with a semi-automatic rifle during protests over the shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, by a white Kenosha police officer.
In his testimony, Rittenhouse also said he was taking online classes from ASU. University officials confirmed at the time he was an online student. That no longer is the case.
“Kyle Rittenhouse has not gone through the ASU admissions process. Our records show that he is not currently enrolled in any classes at ASU," according to a statement from the university.
There would be no rule to preclude him from reapplying. Rittenhouse said in recent interviews he is considering studying to be a lawyer or a nurse and will likely move out of the Midwest.
David Hancock, a spokesman for the Rittenhouse family, did not immediately respond to text messages seeking comment.
Student organizations want the university to prevent Rittenhouse from being able to enroll online or in-person. Their other demands include a statement against white supremacy and more support for multicultural spaces on campus.
Jay Thorne, an ASU spokesman, declined to comment on the planned rally.
There were about an equal number of Rittenhouse supporters. Many had signs and hats from Kari Lake's campaign. They attempted to shout over the rally, saying remarks like "Not guilty. The former Phoenix TV anchor is running to be the Republican nominee for Arizona governor.
Former Republican Rep. Matt Salmon, who is running for Arizona governor, slammed the rally as an “ongoing harassment campaign" of someone who was not convicted of a crime. In a statement, he also criticized university officials for not speaking out more.
“It is time for the far-left to respect our judicial system, and it is time for administrators at ASU to stand up for the rule of law and protect their students from these thugs.”