Arizona GOP Governor Hopeful Slams ASU Students as 'Thugs' Over Kyle Rittenhouse Protest

Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Salmon criticized Arizona State University (ASU) students for planning a Wednesday protest of the school's association with Kyle Rittenhouse, calling them "thugs," the Associated Press reported.

"It is time for the far left to respect our judicial system, and it is time for administrators at ASU to stand up for the rule of law and protect their students from these thugs," Matt Salmon, former U.S. representative, said in a statement Monday.

The protest was organized by four student organizations at the school, concerning the fact that Rittenhouse testified during his November trial that he was a college student taking online classes provided at the university, which was confirmed by ASU at the time.

However, the university released a statement Monday saying he is not currently enrolled at the university, but does remain eligible to reapply and attend classes.

"Kyle Rittenhouse has not gone through the ASU admissions process. Our records show that he is not currently enrolled in any classes at ASU," according to the statement.

Rittenhouse said in a recent interview that he withdrew from the online classes he was taking because of the pressure of the trial, but did plan on attending college again in the future, according to The Arizona Republic.

"Next semester that opens up, I'm going to re-enroll in those classes just so I can finish them up and pursue my career in nursing," he said in an interview on NewsNation, and said the previous classes were online, but he hopes to attend classes at the school's campus in Tempe in the future.

The student organizations want Rittenhouse to be barred from potentially enrolling in the future, along with requesting the university make a definitive statement about their opposition to white supremacy, and create more supportive multicultural spaces on campus.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Kyle Rittenhouse, Arizona State University
Arizona Republican governor candidate Matt Salmon assails Arizona State University student groups who planned a protest of the school's ties to Kyle Rittenhouse. Above, Rittenhouse enters the courtroom to hear the verdicts in his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Nov. 19, 2021. Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, Pool

Four student organizations planned to hold a rally on the Tempe campus to urge the university to disavow the 18-year-old, who was acquitted of murder last month in the deadly shootings in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Rittenhouse testified that he acted in self-defense when he killed two men and wounded a third with a semi-automatic rifle during protests over the shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, by a white Kenosha police officer.

There would be no rule to preclude him from reapplying to college. Rittenhouse said in recent interviews he is considering studying to be a lawyer or a nurse and will likely move out of the Midwest.

David Hancock, a spokesman for the Rittenhouse family, did not immediately respond to text messages seeking comment.

Jay Thorne, an ASU spokesman, declined to comment on the planned rally.

Salmon slammed the rally as an "ongoing harassment campaign" of someone who was not convicted of a crime. In a statement, he also criticized university officials for not speaking out more.

Matt Salmon, Kyle Rittenhouse, Arizona State University
Matt Salmon, GOP candidate for Arizona governor, criticizes Arizona State University students planning protests calling for the university to prevent Kyle Rittenhouse from enrolling. Above, the former congressman speaks during the Rally To Protect Our Elections conference on July 24, 2021, in Phoenix. Brandon Bell/Getty Images