William Kelly was terminated earlier this year by the Norfolk Police Department after he sent an encouraging message and $25 to Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old who was recently acquitted of killing two individuals with a rifle during a protest in Wisconsin last year. Now, a Virginia state legislator is now calling for Norfolk police to reinstate Kelly back into his old position.
State Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania) strongly encouraged Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone to grant Kelly’s request for reinstatement. “Firing Lt. Kelly sets a bad precedent for all law enforcement in Virginia,” he said in the letter. “Please do the right thing and restore his employment in your department.”
Reeves represents Senate District 17, which encompasses localities north of Richmond and is anchored in Spotsylvania. He is also seeking the Republican nomination in Virginia’s seventh congressional district, both of which are nearly 100 miles away from Norfolk.
Reeves says that this has nothing to do with his congressional run, however. “I would have sent this letter and press release regardless. I spoke to Lt. Kelly this morning. It’s just the right thing to do.”
In his letter to Boone, Reeves accused the police chief of being a hypocrite by marching with Black Lives Matter protesters last year. “There appears to be a double standard here when you yourself marched with BLM in your duty uniform to show support for their cause. I find it absolutely unacceptable.”
In an interview with Virginia Scope Monday, Reeves said his personal experience serving in law enforcement is the reason that he involved himself with the situation happening in a locality far from his own district. “The real reason is I am still a law enforcement officer,” he said while noting that he is currently an auxiliary sheriff deputy in Culpeper and was formerly a police officer in Prince William County. “I think it is clear hypocrisy.”
Reeves says that in a phone call with Kelly, he thanked the terminated officer for standing up for others’ rights and apologized that he and his family were experiencing this situation. He also asked for his permission to publicize the letter, noting that he did not want it to have a negative impact on Kelly’s life.
The protests that Reeves is referencing took place across the country during the summer of 2020 in response to the police killings of George Floyd and other Black individuals. The incident that resulted in Rittenhouse being charged with murder took place at one of those protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin in August of 2020.
Rittenhouse then became a hero of the far-right for his actions that night and a murderous vigilante to the left.
As often happens for individuals involved in highly politicized situations that become prominent in mainstream media — the fundraisers began. Individuals across the country use these opportunities to show support for people in high-profile incidents, often sending a few dollars and encouraging words — similar to the $25 and message from Kelly to Rittenhouse. “God bless. Thank you for your courage. Keep your head up. You’ve done nothing wrong,” Kelly wrote with his donation to Rittenhouse
In a recent interview, Kelly said he made the donation to help make sure Rittenhouse could get his message out to the public. “I was interested in giving him the chance to defend himself in front of a jury. I know that lawyers are expensive, and it’s hard sometimes to get the message out there. I wanted to make sure that he had the means necessary to make his claim in court.”
Kelly himself has become the beneficiary of a fundraiser in recent days as conservative commentator Candace Owens took his cause up and helped him raise money on social media. “Today I started a fundraiser for Lt. Bill Kelly—17 year police veteran who was fired in April after the despicable [The Guardian] revealed that he anonymously donated to Kyle Rittenhouse’s legal defense,” Owens wrote Saturday afternoon.
The fundraiser raised $250,000 for Kelly in two days and was capped at that mark. An update on the page from The Daily Wire says that Kelly is being flown out to a show to be presented with the check.
Kelly did not respond to requests for comment. The Norfolk Police Department has not provided any response to the requests from Reeves or Kelly at this time.
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