Federal lawsuit filed against Kyle Rittenhouse, Facebook, militia groups in aftermath of Kenosha shootings

NOW: Federal lawsuit filed against Kyle Rittenhouse, Facebook, militia groups in aftermath of Kenosha shootings

KENOSHA, Wis. (CBS 58) – A federal civil rights lawsuit is being filed against Kyle Rittenhouse, Facebook and militia groups in the aftermath of the Kenosha shootings.

The lawsuit lists the defendants as Rittenhouse, Facebook, the Kenosha Guard, former Kenosha alderman Kevin Mathewson, the Boogaloo Bois and a man named Ryan Balch.

The lawsuit filed on Tuesday, Sept. 22 identifies the plaintiffs as:

  • Hannah Gittings, the life partner of Anthony Huber, who was shot and killed on August 25
  • Kenosha native Christopher McNeal who was allegedly harassed by militia members 
  • Milwaukee native Carmen Palmer who was allegedly threatened by militia members
  • Kenosha resident Nathan Peet who witnessed the one of the fatal shootings on August 25

Attorney Jennifer Sirrine said Gettings in particular, suffered immense emotional and financial damage.

“She couldn’t retrieve her house or car keys from his body, so she was trapped outside of her house, until she was able to get his body released,” Sirrine told CBS 58.

According to documents filed, the lawsuit states, ‘Defendants Promoted Attendance, Violence, and Imagery Designed to Threaten, Intimidate, and Harass’.

The filing includes several screenshots from social media from the various defendants.

The lawsuit seeks damages for all of the plaintiffs as well as an injunctions preventing Facebook from 'violating its own policies aimed to prevent violent rhetoric, militia groups and other hate groups from congregating and interacting on its site’.

The lawsuit says Facebook was, ‘negligent when it failed to remove the Kenosha Guard home and event pages.

“Facebook received over 400 reports of the violent rhetoric that was taking place on the Kenosha Guard event page," Sirrine said. "And Facebook did not take that down.”

Shortly after the shooting, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a video statement, where he referred to not removing the posts as an "operational error." The violent nature of the posts does violate the company policy.

“The contractors, the reviewers, who the initial complaints were funneled too basically didn’t pick this up," Zuckerberg said.

Facebook sent CBS 58 a statement in response the lawsuit Wednesday, September 23: “We removed the shooter’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and took action against organizations and content related to Kenosha. We have found no evidence that suggests the shooter followed the Kenosha Guard Page or that he was invited to the Event Page they organized.”

Sirrine said their number one option in terms of the Facebook portion of the lawsuit would be for the company to commit to cracking down harder on these kinds of posts in the future, and they would drop the social media giant from the lawsuit.

The filing also stated, ‘We have an army. We do not need people playing army—particularly when their targets are engaged in the expression of fundamental rights… Defendants Mathewson, Balch, and Rittenhouse also committed civil conspiracy as well as met the elements of intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress’.

The entire filing can be seen below:

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