Four individuals who suffered from the violence in Kenosha last month have filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against Facebook, Kyle Rittenhouse, and several militia groups. The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Wisconsin federal court alleges the six defendants “promoted attendance, violence, and imagery designed to threaten, intimidate, and harass.” Specifically, it argues that Facebook “empowered right-wing militias to inflict extreme violence and deprive Plaintiffs and protestors of their rights” by providing a space that several groups used to recruit members and plan violence in August. The suit also names Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old charged with killing two Kenosha protesters, and the “commander” of the Kenosha Guard, a self-described militia group.
“There is a failure on the part of Facebook to act based upon warnings that result[ed] in armed militias violating state law and in the case of Rittenhouse going to a peaceful protest to violently repress and deter American citizens from engaging in their constitutional rights,” Jason Flores-Williams, the attorney who filed the suit, told BuzzFeed News. The lawsuit, which is the first to accuse Facebook of abetting the violence in Kenosha, was filed by Hannah Gittings, whose partner was fatally shot by Rittenhouse; Christopher McNeal, a Black Kenosha resident; Nathan Peet, a Kenosha resident who attempted to assist one of the people Rittenhouse allegedly shot; and Carmen Palmer, a Black woman who traveled to Kenosha from Milwaukee to protest. Lin Wood, an attorney for Rittenhouse, called the lawsuit “nonsense.”