Candidate draws criticism over meme about Wisconsin shooting

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A Republican congressional nominee in Alabama is facing criticism for a weekend social media post, which he later deleted, of a meme that appeared to support a teenager charged with killing two people, and wounding a third, during protests in Wisconsin.

Barry Moore, the Republican nominee for Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District, posted a meme Saturday that depicted Kyle Rittenhouse carrying a rifle with the caption “fought back” and what appeared to be two other people slumped on the ground during protests with the caption, “didn’t fight back.”

Rittenhouse faces homicide charges in connection with the deaths of two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin and the wounding of another.

Rittenhouse, armed with an AR-15 style rifle, joined several other armed people in Kenosha, where businesses had been vandalized and buildings burned after a police shooting that left Jacob Blake, a Black man, paralyzed. Prosecutors said Rittenhouse killed two people and severely wounded a third. His attorney maintains he acted in self-defense.

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Moore later deleted the post and apologized for its graphic nature, saying he should have expressed his feelings “in words, not just with a meme.”

“Mr. Moore’s decision to share a post defending Kyle Rittenhouse’s actions was wrong … As our nation grapples with ending systemic inequality, we need leaders committed to fairness and compassion, not ones who stoke division,” Phyllis Harvey-Hall, the Democratic in the race, said in a statement about the post.

The Alabama Democratic Party called the post “offensive and indefensible.”

Moore wrote a follow-up post calling the situation complicated and that he was “troubled that a young man felt compelled to take up arms to protect lives and property.”

“This is a horrible, complicated situation, and I’m troubled not only by the shooting of Jacob Blake but also how peaceful protests turned into rioting, burning, rampant destruction of a vibrant, growing town and acts of violence against police,” Moore wrote.

Moore and Harvey-Hall are competing for the congressional seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Martha Roby.

Roby did not seek re-election.

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