Jan. 14 (Reuters) — A lawyer for Kyle Rittenhouse, the U.S. teenager charged with fatally shooting two protesters during protests in Wisconsin over the summer, on Thursday denied allegations by prosecutors that he had any affiliation with white supremacists.
The statement, made by attorney Mark Richards in a court filing, came after prosecutors asked a court to modify bond conditions due to videos showing Rittenhouse in a bar and allegedly making gestures associated with white power groups.
"The State's bond motion is a not-so-thinly veiled attempt to interject the issue of race into a case that is about a person's right to self-defense," Richards wrote in a response to the allegations by prosecutors.
Rittenhouse, 18, has been charged in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, with first-degree homicide and five other criminal counts related to the shootings, in which two people were killed and a third was wounded. His lawyers have indicated they plan to argue their client acted in self-defense.
On Wednesday prosecutors asked the Kenosha County Circuit Court to alter the terms of his release to ban any consumption of alcohol, the display of any "white power" or "white supremacy" signs or gestures and association with any known members of militias or white supremacist groups.
The Kenosha County District Attorney's Office said that Rittenhouse, his mother and several other adults went to Pudgy's Pub in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin on Jan. 5 where photographic and video evidence showed he drank beer and posed for a photo with two men flashing the "OK" sign, a gesture used as a symbol by white supremacist groups.
Prosecutors also said Rittenhouse was serenaded by men at the pub with "Proud of Your Boy," a song associated with the Proud Boys, which the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as a hate group, citing its anti-Muslim and misogynist rhetoric.
While an 18-year-old can legally consume alcohol in a bar in Wisconsin if accompanied by a parent, in Illinois the legal age is 21, prosecutors noted in their motion. Rittenhouse, who is out on a $2 million bond, is a resident of Illinois.
Richards said he did not object to modifying his bond conditions to prohibit alcohol.
(Reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)