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Fact check: Kyle Rittenhouse picture and caption are missing context

  | USA TODAY

After nearly three months behind bars, Kyle Rittenhouse was freed on bond Nov. 20, the latest wrinkle in a uniquely polarizing case.

The 17-year-old from Antioch, Illinois, is charged with two counts of homicide and one of attempted homicide after shooting three people amid the August unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after police shot Jacob Blake. The case has become a touchpoint amid the ongoing social justice movement, with some condemning Rittenhouse’s presence and actions and others hailing him as a hero.

Rittenhouse was able to post the $2 million bond because people around the country have donated to his bond and legal defense funds, rallying around the self-defense argument his lawyers will be making in court.

One image from shortly after his release has been widely shared online, showing Rittenhouse smiling with two men. A Nov. 21 Instagram post captioned that image this way:

“Actor Ricky Schroder and My Pillow Founder Mike Lindell Helped Fund $2 Million Bail for Kenosha Killer Kyle Rittenhouse.”

We dug into whether the picture and description are accurate.

More: Fact check: Claims of nationwide protests affecting Biden’s poll performance lack context

Picture from attorney’s tweet

The picture and info are pulled from two tweets by Lin Wood, a Rittenhouse defense attorney.

About 3 p.m. Nov. 20, Wood announced on Twitter that Rittenhouse was out of jail, adding, “Special thanks to Actor Ricky Schroder @rickyshroder1 & Mike Lindell @realMikeLindell for putting us over the top.”

About four hours later, Wood tweeted the picture used in the Instagram post, identifying the men with Rittenhouse as attorney John Pierce and Schroder.

So the Instagram repost of this image is accurate, but it doesn’t show the two people the post’s caption implies, because it pulled in information from two different tweets. Lindell, the founder of My Pillow, is not shown in the picture.

The account that posted the image and caption on Instagram, balleralert, didn’t immediately respond to a message from USA TODAY.

(As a quick aside: The picture also spawned a controversy with Black Rifle Coffee Company, the veteran-owned company named on the shirt Rittenhouse wore in the picture. Black Rifle CEO Evan Hafer said in a later Twitter post his company does not sponsor Rittenhouse and is “not in the business of profiting from tragedy,” while reiterating support of the Second Amendment.)

Our ruling: Missing context

We rate this claim MISSING CONTEXT based on our research. The picture is legitimate and shows Rittenhouse and Schroder. But the third person is an attorney, not Lindell. That doesn’t match the assumption readers will make about the identities based on this caption.

Our fact-check sources:

Contact Eric Litke at (414) 225-5061 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @ericlitke.

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Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

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