Kyle Rittenhouse claimed on Tuesday night that he was unaware the “OK” hand sign he flashed while posing in bar photos with the Proud Boys was a “symbol for white supremacy.”
Additionally, the recently acquitted 18-year-old insisted he “didn’t know” the people he took the infamous pictures with were members of the far-right group, blaming his ex-attorneys for setting up the meeting.
Weeks after he was released on bail, photos circulated of Rittenhouse drinking in a Wisconsin bar with several Proud Boys while sporting a t-shirt that blared “FREE AS FUCK” and flashing what prosecutors described as a “white power” sign. In recent years, the “OK” hand signal has been co-opted by the alt-right and white nationalists and is now largely identified as a hate symbol.
“You have stated that you are not a racist, but there’s video footage of you using hand signs that are used by groups that are considered by many to be white supremacists,” NewsNation anchor Ashleigh Banfield asked Rittenhouse on Tuesday. “Why have you associated with members of groups like the Proud Boys? Why have you used hand signs that are commonly associated with white supremacy?”
Calling it a “good question,” Rittenhouse said he “didn’t know that the OK hand sign was a symbol for white supremacy.” Furthermore, he said he “didn’t know those people in the bar were Proud Boys.”
“They were set up by my former attorney, who was fired because of that, for putting me in situations like that with people I don’t agree with,” Rittenhouse continued. “If I had known that they were Proud Boys, I would have said absolutely not.”
Rittenhouse went on to say it was specifically his ex-attorney John Pierce who “arranged” the Jan. 5 meeting with the Proud Boys at the Wisconsin bar, claiming Pierce—who was not at the establishment himself—wanted the extremist organization to “do security” for the teenager.
Banfield eventually asked Rittenhouse if he had any regrets about hanging out and drinking with the extremists. Rittenhouse replied, “I definitely don’t think it looked good to hang out with people who are now known to be Proud Boys” and said he “definitely wouldn’t do that again.”
“I found out they were Proud Boys when I saw the headlines,” he added. “I thought they were just a bunch of, like, construction dudes based on how they looked.”
The Illinois teen also blasted Pierce and his other former attorney Lin Wood during his interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson that aired Monday night, claiming they had “taken advantage” of him by “trying to raise money so they could take it for their own benefit.”
Immediately after he was found not guilty in his high-profile murder trial, Rittenhouse’s current defense lawyers filed to have the $2 million bail money that was raised on his behalf returned to their client. The conspiratorial Wood’s nonprofit, however, has filed a motion seeking the cash, and Pierce currently holds the receipt for the bail, suggesting a lengthy legal fight is brewing over the significant sum.