A conservative student organization at Arizona State University announced it will be donating half of all funds collected this semester to the legal defense of Kyle Rittenhouse.
Police have named the 17-year-old Rittenhouse as a suspect in a shooting during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last week that left two people dead and a third person seriously wounded.
Rittenhouse now faces homicide charges as well as a felony charge for attempted homicide, court records show.
Republicans United, which split from the ASU College Republicans chapter in 2018, said it will donate the money to efforts to help defend Rittenhouse who the group says was “protecting his life and (shot) three attackers.”
“Kenosha has devolved into anarchy because the authorities in charge of the city abandoned it,” the group says on its website. “They stood back and watched Kenosha burn. Kyle Rittenhouse is not a vigilante but a citizen who attempted to help in a city in chaos.”
ASU College Republicans, which is not affiliated with Republicans United, released a statement Saturday slamming the group for its “history of blatantly racist and antisemitic conduct.”
“We condemn and call for a formal administrative investigation into the conduct and operation of the organization dubbed ‘College Republicans United’ at ASU,” the statement read. “We do not associate with nor condone their recent actions involving contributing to the legal defense fund of a man who shot and killed several Americans in Wisconsin.”
While the university does not restrict student groups from fundraising for whatever causes they choose, ASU President Michael M. Crow told CNN in a statement the university considers actions associated with anti-social justice efforts “appalling and misguided.”
“It is important to note that the long-standing College Republicans student organization at ASU has repudiated the CRU and its agenda,” Crow said. “The university takes very seriously its duty to establish a culture where differences of opinion are shared, but protecting that freedom does not signal an endorsement or approval by the university, nor does it remove student organizations from having responsibility for their words and their actions.”
“We do not condone the death of these individuals but take note that these are not model citizens. Kyle Rittenhouse does not deserve to have his entire life destroyed because of the actions of violent anarchists during a lawless riot,” Republicans United said.
The shooting came amid protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man. Blake survived but is paralyzed from the waist down.