An armed protester has become the subject of conspiracy theories online after appearing outside of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The man, who has referred to himself as “Maserati Mike,” was spotted outside of the courthouse on Wednesday with a rifle, megaphone, and what appeared to be a bulletproof vest.
The protester, according to numerous media outlets at the scene, described himself as “anti-Black Lives Matter” and had previously clashed with the activist group the day prior.
The man’s presence spurred widespread discussion on Twitter, where many users criticized his demeanor given the specifics of the trial. Rittenhouse is charged with killing two protesters and wounding a third during unrest in the city in August of last year. Defenders of Rittenhouse argue that his actions constituted self-defense, while others claim the shooting was unjustified.
But instead of jumping to the defense of Maserati Mike, many on the right have instead accused him of working for the federal government. Despite no evidence, the claim that the armed protester was sent to the courthouse to paint conservatives in a bad light has popped up online.
Similar comments were made on other social media outlets such as Reddit and GETTR, where users claimed that a “false flag” attack could be in the works.
Others suggested that the protester could be working for one of several government entities including the FBI, CIA, or ATF.
Maserati Mike’s demonstration was cut short after two police officers on the scene asked him whether he had a permit for his firearm. While openly carrying a firearm is legal in Wisconsin without a license, the officers informed the demonstrator that he could not carry his rifle within 1,000 feet of a school.
“Police confront the man for carrying a rifle within 1000 feet of a school, he says he does not have a CCW,” @BGOnTheScene wrote. “Officers take him aside to ID him away from the media.”
As reported by the New York Post, Maserati Mike left the scene in his vehicle and returned an hour later without the rifle. The protester was, however, believed to be carrying a knife in his pocket.
“Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization,” the man said into his megaphone.
Maserati Mike is just the latest right-wing figure to be labeled a fed by increasingly paranoid conservatives. Countless individuals at the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, many of who have been identified as longtime supporters of former President Donald Trump, have similarly been called feds without evidence.
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