US Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) is calling for teenager Kyle Rittenhouse, fresh from his acquittal on homicide charges, to be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for “protecting” his community from rioters.
Greene introduced a bill that calls for awarding the prestigious medal to Rittenhouse because he “protected the community of Kenosha, Wisconsin, during a Black Lives Matter riot on August 25, 2020.” The legislation comes after at least two other Republicans in Congress – Representatives Matt Gaetz (Florida) and Madison Cawthorn (North Carolina) – made internship offers to Rittenhouse.
The Congressional Gold Medal marks the highest honor that Congress can award. Recent recipients have included police officers who defended the US Capitol during the January 6 riot and American troops who were killed by a terrorist bombing during the Pentagon’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in August.
Rittenhouse, 18, was found not guilty last week of homicide and related charges in connection with shootings that left two rioters dead and one injured. The Kenosha County Circuit Court jury apparently believed the teen’s claims that he acted in self-defense as he was being attacked by men who tried to take his rifle, including one who pointed a pistol at his head.
Greene’s bill is only the latest salvo in the political battle over a case that President Joe Biden and other Democrats held up as an example of white supremacy – even though Rittenhouse and all three of the men he shot were white – and vigilantism. Biden reacted to last Friday’s verdict by saying he was “angry and concerned,” and Vice President Kamala Harris said the jury’s decision showed that “there’s still a lot more work to do” in making the US criminal justice system more “equitable.”
Biden’s Republican predecessor, Donald Trump, met with Rittenhouse at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida on Tuesday. Trump, who does not rule out running for president again in 2024, called Rittenhouse “a nice young man” and said prosecutors never should have put him through a trial, given that the teen “would have been dead” if he didn’t shoot the attackers.