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Conservative group at Arizona State raises money for alleged Kenosha shooter: 'He does not deserve to have his entire life destroyed'

A conservative student group called College Republicans United at Arizona State University is raising money for the teen suspected of killing two people and injuring another at a protest in Kenosha, Wis., this week.

"Half of all funds collected this semester for Republicans United will be donated to 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse legal defense fund," a tweet by the group said Thursday. "He does not deserve to have his entire life destroyed because of the actions of violent anarchists during a lawless riot."

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Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old from Illinois, has been accused of shooting and killing 26-year-old Anthony Huber and 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum in Kenosha.

Rittenhouse was formally charged with intentional homicide, one count of attempted first-degree intentional homicide and two counts of first-degree reckless endangerment. He was taken into custody Wednesday to face those charges in Wisconsin. 

The protests in Wisconsin came in response to the Kenosha police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was shot in the back seven times while trying to get into his vehicle. 

Blake is currently paralyzed from the waist down.  

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According to attorneys representing Rittenhouse, a local business owner — whose car dealership sustained vast amounts of damage during the previous nights of protest — called on Rittenhouse and a friend to provide security for his store amid the protests.  

Rittenhouse's attorneys claim his involvement in the shooting was an act of self-defense protected by the Second Amendment.

"Upon the sound of a gunshot behind him, Kyle turned and was immediately faced with an attacker lunging towards him and reaching for his rifle," attorneys said. "He reacted instantaneously and justifiably with his weapon to protect himself, firing and striking the attacker."

College Republicans United maintained that Rittenhouse was acting to keep a city out of chaos. 

"Kenosha has devolved into anarchy because the authorities in charge of the city abandoned it," the group said. "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."

Demonstrations against racial injustice and police brutality were sparked across the country in late May after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died police custody. 

A separate University of Arizona group called ASU College Republicans (ASU CR) issued a statement distancing themselves from the United group's efforts to raise funds for Rittenhouse's legal fees. 

"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," according to the statement.

ASU CR called for a formal administrative investigation into CRU, alleging that the group defending Rittenhouse has a history of "blatantly racist and antisemitic conduct."

Updated 10:45 p.m.

An earlier version of this report referred to CRU as "College Republicans," and corrections have been made to differentiate the two ASU clubs.