Teenager Kyle Rittenhouse — who has pled not guilty to murder charges leveled against him for shootings that took place in Kenosha, Wisconsin, this summer and who has been released on bail — has been accused of flashing a white power symbol, though it’s far from clear that the alleged symbol even is a symbol of what the prosecutors allege it to be.
Because of this accusation, prosecutors at the Kenosha County DA’s Office are demanding that the terms of Rittenhouse’s bond be changed to prohibit from going to bars, consuming alcohol, or affiliating with alleged “white supremacist” organizations.
On January 5, Rittenhouse and his mother went to a bar in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, called Pudgy’s Pub. While there, Rittenhouse consumed three beers. While Rittenhouse is only 18, this is legal under Wisconsin state law because his mother was present.
Rittenhouse also posed for pictures with other people in which he can be seen making an ‘OK’ hand gesture.
Prosecutors allege that this is a “white power” symbol. They say that this means that Rittenhouse is affiliated with white supremacist organizations.
One of these alleged organizations is called the Proud Boys. While their detractors denounce them as white supremacists, they insist that they are simply a group of men who like Western culture. They point out that since their leader, Enrique Tario, is half black and half Cuban, they cannot be white supremacists.
The men in the bar with Rittenhouse sang him a song, “Proud of Your Boy,” which Proud Boys often sing. Prosecutors allege that this proves that Rittenhouse is affiliated with the group.
Rittenhouse’s lawyers have denied that Rittenhouse is a member of the Proud Boys or that he has anything to do with any white supremacist organization.
The ‘OK’ Symbol Isn’t About White Supremacy — It Started as a Joke
Perhaps the strangest thing about all of this is that the supposed connection between the ‘OK’ hand sign and white supremacy was deliberately and demonstrably made up. There was never a real connection, but people only started saying that there was as a joke.
The idea of manufacturing the ‘OK’ hand sign into a white power symbol first emerged on /pol/, a subsection of the imageboard website 4chan dedicated to political discussion.
Trolls on /pol/, exasperated by what they took to be the left’s oversensitivity to claims of “racism” and “white supremacy,” decided to manufacture the connection between the ‘OK’ hand symbol and racism out of whole cloth.
As a joke, they started seeding false information on the internet indicative of such a connection. The idea behind the joke was that the left was so irrational, so stupid, so uncritically ready to believe anything that confirmed their narrative of omnipresent racism that they could even be made to believe that the totally innocuous ‘OK’ hand symbol was connected to white supremacy.
Unfortunately for people like Kyle Rittenhouse, the trolls on /pol/ turned out to be right.