Lawsuit claims Facebook groups led to fatal shootings in Kenosha

The lawsuit alleges Facebook failed to take down a "group and event page" that encouraged violence during nights of protests and unrest in Kenosha. Four people are behind a federal lawsuit against Facebook, accused shooter Kyle Rittenhouse, and a former Kenosha alderman.

Kyle Rittenhouse

Kyle Rittenhouse

Facebook reportedly received hundreds of complaints over certain pages -- and did not take them down until the fatal shooting. The federal lawsuit is seeking an injunction that could force the social media platform to prohibit violent rhetoric, milities, and hate groups from the site.

"Right wing Militia groups need to stop operating," said Jennifer Sirrine, attorney for 21st Century Law, co-counsel for the plaintiffs. "Take down these pages that promote and incite violence."

The plaintiffs include the life partner of Anthony Huber, one of the men killed in the shooting, as well as three other people who witnessed the gunfire or allege harassment from members of "right wing militia groups."

Anthony Huber

Anthony Huber

The 39-page lawsuit alleges a violent conspiracy and negligence on Facebook's part -- because they received 400 complaints regarding the Kenosha Guard and an event page. Violent language was used like, "I fully plan to kill looters and rioters tonight."

"Facebook did not take it down until two people died," Sirrine said.

Several nights of protests and unrest were sparked from the shooting of Jacob Blake by a Kenosha police officer. 

Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, charged with homicide in fatal shooting of two Kenosha protesters

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg previously admitted the page violated Facebook policies -- and that not taking it down earlier was an "operational mistake." However, Zuckerberg said there was no connection between the page and the accused shooter, Kyle Rittenhouse. 

Those behind the lawsuit disagree.

"Rittenhouse would've seen this page. That's how he would know about the militia's activity," Sirrine said.

Former Kenosha Alderman Kevin Mathewson is behind the Kenosha Guard and the call to arms.

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"I do not, I do not regret it," Mathewson previously told FOX6 News.

Mathewson said he could not sit back and do nothing during the unrest. Mathewson insists he is not responsible for the fatal shooting.

Efforts to reach Mathewson or Facebook for comment on the lawsuit were unsuccessful. 

An attorney for Kyle Rittenhouse called the lawsuit nonsense on Twitter.

A Facebook company spokesperson issued this statement to FOX6 News Wednesday:

“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.”

Rittenhouse faces two counts of homicide and one count of attempted homicide, among other charges. His attorneys have argued that he was only trying to protect an auto shop from looting and opened fire in self-defense after Rosenbaum tried to take his gun, Huber hit him in the head with a skateboard and Grosskreutz tried to take his gun.

The three officers who were at the scene when Blake was shot were placed on paid administrative leave while the state Department of Justice oversees an investigation into whether any of them should face charges.


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