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A data breach of a Christian crowdfunding site revealed that public officials and police officers have donated to Kyle Rittenhouse, a teen facing charges for shooting protesters demonstrating for Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis.
In August 2020, Blake, a Black man was shot in the back several times by a police officer, Rusten Sheskey, while attempting to enter his car. The incident left Blake paralyzed.
Following the shooting, protests erupted in Kenosha, and Rittenhouse traveled from Illinois to the city with a firearm, claiming that he was there to protect local businesses.
Rittenhouse is accused of firing his weapon into a crowd of protesters, killing two of them. Following charges filed against Rittenhouse, a GiveSendGo page for the teen raised $585,940, exceeding its $500,000 goal.
A data breach first reported by The Guardian and shared with The Hill by the group Distributed Denial of Secrets revealed that several donors had email addresses traceable to police and public officials.
The Guardian noted that donors attempted to conceal identity by donating with GiveSendGo's anonymity feature, but identifying details about them were preserved, and they were able.
Among the donors identified was Sgt. William Kelly of the Norfolk Police Department, who gave $30 to Rittenhouse on Sept. 3. He left the comment “God bless. Thank you for your courage. Keep your head up. You’ve done nothing wrong.”
He continued, "Every rank and file police officer supports you. Don’t be discouraged by actions of the political class of law enforcement leadership.”
Virginia State Rep. Jay Jones (D), who is seeking to become the state's next attorney general, called for Kelly's resignation amid the report.
"If these allegations are true, Officer Kelly must resign from the Norfolk Police Department immediately. Should he not resign, he must be terminated," he said in a statement. "There should be no place in our police departments for those who sympathize with white supremacists like Kyle Rittenhouse, who violently attacked peaceful protesters.”
Another donor, Michael Crosley, made a $100 donation to Rittenhouse. He is an engineer with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), a body that is charged with maintaining the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, according to The Guardian.
He used his laboratory email to make the donation, the data shows.
In a statement to The Hill, the LLNL said Crosley “was acting on his own and does not speak for the Laboratory. It was not his intent to use his Lab email.”
Another donor, Keith Silvers, was identified through his email address as an employee with the city of Huntsville, Ala. Data shows that he donated $20 on Aug. 28 and left the comment "Lord raise up the righteous and stifle the wicked."
The city told The Hill in a statement that it has been "made aware of the situation concerning one of our print shop employee’s use of municipal email. The matter will be handled in accordance with our City’s Personnel Policies and Procedures."
The Hill has reached out to Distributed Denial of Secrets and the Norfolk Police Department for comment.
Rittenhouse, now 18, has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree intentional homicide and attempting intentional homicide for wounding the third. He is expected to stand trial in November.
—Update at 4: 03 p.m.
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