PHOENIX - Amid controversy over Kyle Rittenhouse's connections with Arizona State University, officials with the public university released a statement on the 18-year-old.
Rittenhouse was charged with homicide, attempted homicide and reckless endangering for killing two men in Wisconsin and wounding a third with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle in the summer of 2020 during a tumultuous night of protests over the shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, by a white Kenosha police officer. A jury acquitted him of all charges on Nov. 19.
Rittenhouse claims he attends ASU
During his trial, Rittenhouse told the court he had enrolled in nursing classes at ASU. However, it was later revealed that Rittenhouse was taking virtual classes, and not attending in person. In the days following that revelation, ASU officials released a statement that reads:
"Kyle Rittenhouse has not gone through the admissions process with Arizona State University and is not enrolled in the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation. ASU can confirm that Mr. Rittenhouse enrolled as a non-degree seeking ASU Online student for the session that started Oct. 13, 2021, which allows students access to begin taking classes as they prepare to seek admission into a degree program at the university."
On Nov. 29, a spokesperson with ASU issued a new statement explaining further, which reads:
Some students demand Rittenhouse's removal
Some students at ASU are furious to have Rittenhouse's name associated with their school, and several student-led organizations have called on the school to take more action by withdrawing him from the university completely.
Currently, there is a circulating petition, and a rally is scheduled to be held on Dec. 1 with a list of demands to university officials that include Rittenhouse's withdrawal, the release of a statement against white supremacy, and the reaffirmation of support, as well as a redirection of funding, for the school's multicultural center.
In the aftermath of the statement released by ASU official on Nov. 29, a joint statement released by four ASU student-led organizations said they will not stand for "a white supremacist killer on our campus."
"In our view, the Rittenhouse [shooting] is analogous to the Greensboro massacre, where 5 anti-racist protestors were killed by Klan members that were later acquitted by an all-white jury. Similar to the Greensboro massacre, the Rittenhouse case is a failure of the justice system to punish fascist vigilante violence," read a portion of the statement. "Since Rittenhouse shot and killed 2 anti-racist protestors and wounded another, he has been followed online and in real-life by extremely violent right-wing Nazis, fascists, and Klan hanger-ons. Having such a high-profile right-wing fascist icon on our campus would be giving these organizations a free pass to recruit and organize students."
The same statement also accused ASU officials of allowing so-called "fascist factions" to "agitate freely on campus for some time."
"Even when their student clubs are caught spewing racist rhetoric, dressing up as Charlottesville Nazis, or most recently hanging up swastika posters, ASU has been silent and upheld violence against Brown and Black people," read a portion of the statement. "We are calling on the ASU administration, and our president Michael Crow, to stop hiding and denounce white supremacy by denying Rittenhouse any further enrollment at ASU."
Students' reaction to demand mixed
On the ASU campus, there is a mixed reaction to the demands of removing Rittenhouse from ASU.
"I actually felt very upset. I know ASU is very proud of their students, and they like to uphold the utmost respect for their students," said Stephanie C. "[Rittenhouse is] going to be having zero consequences for his actions, and I think it's really unfortunate for the victims who passed. I think it's a great opportunity for students to come together and state their options, and try to get this person, who clearly doesn’t represent ASU at all very well, nor do we want him representing ASU."
"I believe that he should have an opportunity, as should every student, to better educate themselves and make a future for themselves regardless of their past, but I think he should be online, not in person, because they would spark a lot of controversy between the students here," said Amador Rios.
We reached out to Rittenhouse’s lawyer, who forwarded our inquiry to Rittenhouse for comment, but we have not heard back.
The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.
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