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A group holds rifles as they watch protesters on the street on Aug. 25, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. (AP) A group holds rifles as they watch protesters on the street on Aug. 25, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. (AP)

A group holds rifles as they watch protesters on the street on Aug. 25, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. (AP)

Madeline Heim
By Madeline Heim August 31, 2020

No, photo does not show Kyle Rittenhouse’s mother on the night protesters were shot

If Your Time is short

  • A photo purports to show the mother of Kyle Rittenhouse, who is charged owth shooting and killing two at a protest in Kenosha.

  • But the photo, which depicts a white woman with a long gun strapped to her chest, is a cropped image from a photo taken on Aug. 24, 2020 in Madison, two days before Rittenhouse arrived in Kenosha

  • It is unknown whether the teen’s mother drove him to the protest that day — but this photo is from a different scene, in a different city. 

Nearly a week after 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse arrived in Kenosha from Antioch, Illinois, and — according to criminal charges — shot and killed two people during a night of protests and chaos in the city, a photo is circulating on social media purporting to describe how he got there. 

Rittenhouse was recorded on video that night carrying a rifle and saying it was his job to protect life and property. It was the third night of unrest after a Kenosha police officer shot Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, seven times in the back at close range. Rittenhouse has been charged with homicide and remains in Illinois awaiting further legal proceedings.

On Aug. 28, 2020, Facebook user Doug McLean shared a photo and connected it to the night of the deadly shooting. It has since drawn more than 800 shares and, in its various iterations, scores of comments. 

In the picture, a white woman is shown wearing fatigues with a long gun strapped to her chest.

"How did Kyle Rittenhouse cross state lines to Wisconsin? His mom, pictured below drove him. #KyleRittenhouse’s mom Wendy, photographed on same night her son killed two people and shot another," McLean wrote. 

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

A release from Rittenhouse’s attorneys on Aug. 28, 2020 disputes this. That release says Rittenhouse had stayed in Kenosha for the night after finishing work as a community lifeguard.

But there’s a bigger problem with the photo that was shared: It’s not even from the same day.

Or the same city.

Let’s dig in. 

Photo is from a related protest in Madison a few days earlier 

The woman with the long gun actually appears in a photo in a separate city, on a different day. The image was cropped in the Facebook post in question to focus on her.

Facebook user Miki Pope shared the original photo, in which the woman stands with a group of other similarly armed people outside the Wisconsin state Capitol in Madison, where protests also occurred after Blake was shot by police. 

"Last night (Aug 24) in Madison, these counter-protesters showed up with long guns," Pope wrote in the early morning hours of Aug. 26, 2020. 

Pope’s post references the violence Rittenhouse is charged with in Kenosha, but does not in any way tie him to the people in the photo aside from decrying the actions of such militia members that have been showing up at various protests. 

"I'm afraid this won't be the last shooting, as armed white supremacists are becoming more and more public about their hatred for Black lives and the Black Lives Matter protests," Pope wrote. 

It’s unknown whether Rittenhouse’s mother had any involvement in bringing her son to Kenosha that day — but the photo does not depict anyone who was there. 

And, as noted, Rittenhouse’s attorney says the teen was in Kenosha already and stayed there into the night hours.

Our ruling 

A Facebook user claimed that a photo of a white woman with a gun was the mother of Kyle Rittenhouse. 

But the photo is not from that protest. It’s cropped from a larger image of a handful of people with guns standing outside the state capitol in Madison two days earlier.

We rate the claim False. 

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More by Madeline Heim

No, photo does not show Kyle Rittenhouse’s mother on the night protesters were shot

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