Teenager charged with killing two in Kenosha to fight extradition, lawyer says

By Nathan Layne

(Reuters) – Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager charged with killing two protesters and injuring another during demonstrations about race and justice in Kenosha, Wisconsin, will fight his requested extradition from Illinois, his lawyer told a court hearing on Friday.

Rittenhouse, 17, has been charged by Kenosha County’s district attorney with six crimes for shooting three people who tried to subdue or disarm him during protests on Aug. 25, killing 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, 26.

Rittenhouse participated in the hearing at the Lake County Circuit Court in Illinois via video link from the detention facility where he is being held. He was wearing a black sweatshirt and a gray mask covered his face.

“Good morning, your honor,” he addressed the judge in his only remarks in the hearing, which lasted just a few minutes.

John Pierce, one of Rittenhouse’s lawyers, said he planned to fight the request by Kenosha prosecutors that he be transferred to Wisconsin to face the charges.

“We intend to challenge extradition by writ of habeas corpus,” Pierce said. “And so we would ask that the procedures be put in place whereby extradition documents are in fact sent from Wisconsin so we can review them.”

The teenager had traveled to Kenosha on Aug. 25 from his home in nearby Antioch, Illinois, in a self-appointed role to protect the streets of Kenosha where the police shooting of Jacob Blake had sparked unrest during protests against police brutality and racism.

Rittenhouse’s legal team have said that he feared for his life when he fired his semi-automatic rifle and was acting in self-defense. Cellphone videos from the night show chaotic scenes, including one where Rittenhouse is chased and falls down before his encounter with Huber and another man, Gaige Grosskreutz.

Huber appeared to hit Rittenhouse in the shoulder with a skateboard and tried to grab his rifle before being shot, according to the criminal complaint. Rittenhouse then pointed the rifle at Grosskreutz, who had a hand gun. Grosskreutz was shot but survived.

Rittenhouse’s lawyers have also sought to portray the case as a referendum on the right to bear arms following a summer of sometimes violent protests in major U.S. cities.

“A 17-year-old American citizen is being sacrificed by politicians, but it’s not Kyle Rittenhouse they are after,” the narrator says in a video released this week by a group tied to his legal team. “Their end game is to strip away the constitutional right of all citizens to defend our communities.”

(Reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut; Editing by Leslie Adler and Alistair Bell)

Portland police make arrests after protest turns violent

(Reuters) – Several demonstrators were arrested in Portland after they threw rocks and projectiles at police officials, authorities in the U.S. city said.

The police said early on Thursday that demonstrators began a march around 11 p.m. local time, adding that officers closed a street and ordered protesters to not enter the area or risk facing arrest.

“Despite the announcements, the crowd continued to gather on Northeast Emerson Street.” Portland Police said. “Some people in the group threw projectiles such as water bottles and rocks towards officers.”

The police said they made “targeted arrests” without disclosing a figure.

Police said they did not use any crowd control munitions or tear gas.

Demonstrations against racism and police brutality have swept the United States since the death in May of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Portland, in particular, has seen over three months of daily demonstrations calling for policing and social justice reforms. These have at times turned into clashes between demonstrators and officers, as well as between right- and left-wing groups.

One person was shot dead on Saturday as rival groups clashed.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump deployed federal forces to Portland in July to crack down on the protests.

Trump signed a memo on Wednesday that threatens to cut federal funding to “lawless” cities, including Portland.

(Reporting by Ann Maria Shibu and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Protesters sue Kenosha claiming arrests, curfew violate U.S. Constitution

By Keith Coffman

(Reuters) – Four people arrested for curfew violations while protesting the shooting of a Black man by a white policeman in Kenosha, Wisconsin sued the city and county governments on Tuesday, claiming they were denied free speech rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

The plaintiffs argue that more than 150 people protesting the shooting have been taken into custody while pro-police demonstrators have been allowed to freely take to the streets, according to the lawsuit filed in federal court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

“In Kenosha, there are two sets of laws – one that applies to those who protest police brutality and racism, and another for those who support the police,” the plaintiffs argue in their complaint, which seeks a temporary restraining order until the litigation can be heard in court.

Reuters could not reach city and county officials for comment after business hours.

Kenosha has been the scene of sometimes violent protests after video footage surfaced showing a police officer shooting Jacob Blake, 29, multiple times in the back.

Blake was left paralyzed from the waist down and the officer, Rusten Sheskey, was placed on administrative leave during an investigation.

The protesters claim in their lawsuit that police were using the curfew to prevent them from taking part in constitutionally protected activity.

The plaintiffs also say police are selectively enforcing the curfew by not arresting pro-police demonstrators, a violation of equal protection under the law guaranteed by the constitution.

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified monetary damages, was filed on the same day that U.S. President Donald Trump visited Kenosha over the objections of some local officials.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Stephen Coates)

Portland Police declare ‘riot’ after officers attacked

(Reuters) – Portland Police declared a gathering of protesters as a “riot” late on Sunday after saying its officers were attacked with lasers, rocks and bottles.

In a Twitter post, the police asked the gathering in the U.S. city’s North Precinct to disperse, adding that failure to comply with the order could lead to arrests and crowd control agents including tear gas and impact weapons.

Police had also declared a riot just before midnight on Saturday after a group of about 250 people – many of them wearing black and carrying shields, helmets and gas masks – tried to march on a government building that has often been the scene of violence during nearly three months of nightly protests.

Police made 14 arrests in that event.

Demonstrations against racism and police brutality have swept the United States since the death in May of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

President Donald Trump’s administration in July deployed federal forces to deal with the protests in Portland.

On Friday, he denounced the demonstrations as “crazy” and said cities run by Democrats had descended into chaos. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is a Democrat.

Portland police said last week that they had declared riots 17 times between May 29 and Aug. 19.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Chopra)

Police declare riot as Portland protesters set fires, attack government building

By Kanishka Singh

(Reuters) – Protesters lit fires, threw rocks and smashed windows at county government offices in the U.S. city of Portland on Tuesday, prompting police to declare a riot, after weeks of mostly peaceful anti-racism demonstrations.

The protesters, some wearing gas masks and carrying shields, lit fires in dumpsters and used lighter fuel to start a fire inside the Multnomah Building big enough to set off the sprinkler system, police said.

TV footage showed debris on the street in flames and people throwing stones at the building. The fire in the building was put out by police, media said.

Black Lives Matter protests have been held across the United States in recent months after the May 25 death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Protests, including in Portland, have at times erupted into arson and violence, and federal officers sent into the Northwestern city have repeatedly clashed with crowds targeting the federal courthouse there.

Police said some officers were targeted a night earlier with a “powerful green laser” capable of causing permanent eye damage when some protesters marched on the Portland Police Association building.

“Portland Police has declared the gathering near the Multnomah Building a riot after individuals vandalized, repeatedly smashed first floor windows with rocks and threw burning material into an office,” the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office said on Twitter.

Police said some crowd control “munitions” were used to disperse the protesters, but no tear gas.

Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury released a statement at midnight, saying a small group of protesters had set fire to the Office of Community Involvement.

“This is the heart of our county, where people in our community come to get married, get their passports, and celebrate their cultural traditions and diversity,” the Oregonian website quoted her as saying, adding the space is dedicated to community members “marginalized by the traditional political process.”

Police said on Wednesday an officer sustained a minor injury and there were two arrests, one on charges of rioting, unlawful use of a weapon and assaulting a public safety officer, and another on charges of criminal mischief and reckless endangering.

A crowd of several hundred people gathered in the city’s Colonel Summers Park late on Tuesday before marching through Southeast Portland streets, eventually arriving at the Multnomah Building, police said.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr came under fire from Democratic lawmakers earlier this month for sending federal officers to disperse protesters in the city.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on Tuesday called for the Department of Justice to prosecute a group of people caught on videotape beating and kicking a man who crashed his truck near protests in Portland.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Portland Police says officers targeted with ‘powerful green laser’ in protest

(Reuters) – Portland Police said on Tuesday some of its officers had been targeted with a “powerful green laser” capable of causing permanent eye damage when some 200 protesters marched on the Portland Police Association (PPA) building late on Monday.

However, they said in a statement the protest largely passed off peacefully, with no injuries and no arrests. A smoke canister was used to help officers leave the scene safely.

The police had warned the protesters on Monday evening that they would use tear gas if the crowd attempted to enter or damage the building.

“Failure to follow this order may subject you to the use of crowd control agents, including, but not limited to tear gas and/or impact weapons,” the police said in a tweet on Monday night.

“Anyone participating in criminal behavior, including burglary and/or vandalism, are subject to arrest and/or citation.”

In Portland, some demonstrators have previously attacked a federal courthouse and others have gathered to speak out against racism and police brutality following the May 25 death of George Floyd.

Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr came under fire from Democratic lawmakers earlier this month for sending federal officers to disperse protesters in Portland.

The police statement on Tuesday said the PPA building had been defaced with a large amount of graffiti. It also said somebody had broken through protective plywood covering and also broken a window. The amount of damage was not yet known.

“The crowd remained for several hours in the street, but they were otherwise peaceful”, the police said.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Gareth Jones)

Portland has night without tear gas as feds withdraw

By Deborah Bloom

PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) – Portland had its first night in weeks without tear gas after state police took over from federal agents guarding a courthouse that has been the focal point of violence between protesters and tactical officers.

The agents withdrew under a deal between Oregon’s governor and U.S. officials to end a deployment that sparked a standoff between Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic mayors over the use of federal officers in their cities.

A few hundred people demonstrated outside the federal courthouse until around 2 a.m. when they left of their own accord, according to a Reuters reporter. On previous nights they had been dispersed with tear gas and other munitions fired by federal agents.

“Things went a lot better last night, last night was the first night in about two months that our officers and agents inside the federal court building there in Portland didn’t come under a direct and immediate threat of being burned alive,” said U.S. Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott, whose Border Tactical Unit officers have been among Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agents in Portland.

Oregon State Police said around 100 of its officers took over security at the courthouse with some regular Federal Protective Service agents remaining.

DHS agents remain on standby in the city and National Guard troops could be sent in should state police be overrun, DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf told Fox News after Trump threatened such action on Thursday

Separately, a DHS spokesman said Wolf had ordered an intelligence unit to stop collecting information on American journalists covering protests in Portland, Oregon, after a media report on the practice.

The Washington Post on Thursday reported that the department compiled “intelligence reports” on journalists using a government system meant to share information about suspected terrorists and violent actors.

(Reporting by Deborah Bloom, Andrew Hay and Lisa Lambert; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Dan Grebler)

On Chicago’s South Side, some violence-weary residents open to federal investigators

By Brendan O’Brien and Tom Polansek

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Many Chicagoans vehemently oppose President Donald Trump’s pledge to send federal officers to the third-largest U.S. city, after seeing camouflaged agents deployed in Portland club and tear-gas anti-racism protesters.

But in South and West Side neighborhoods hit hardest by a recent spike in gang violence, some Chicago residents welcomed the move and said federal agents may be able to help solve crimes.

“I appreciate it and I like it,” said Cedrick Easterling, a former gang member, who was shoveling garbage scattered in the South Side neighborhood of Englewood as part of his work clearing vacant lots.

“If you sit at that park, you will hear shots all over Englewood,” said Easterling, who was once shot himself, pointing south toward Ogden Park. Like most in Chicago, Easterling is not a fan of Trump, who won just 51 of the city’s 2,069 precincts in the 2016 presidential election.

Easterling, 54, has lived in Englewood since he was seven. He said crime is particularly bad this year and Trump should consider bringing in the National Guard and using drones to record evidence of crimes as they occur

Others were more cautious, saying they feared an increased federal presence would erode civil liberties in a city that has had long-standing problems with police brutality in poor, predominantly Black neighborhoods.

Trump said last week that hundreds of officers from the FBI and other federal agencies would help fight crime in Chicago. The city is suffering a spike in violent crime, including a drive-by shooting by suspected gang members at a funeral last week that wounded 15 people.

Trump has sought to project a law-and-order stance as he seeks re-election on Nov. 3, targeting cities controlled by Democrats who he says are soft on criminals. Critics say the administration is seeking to divert attention from its widely criticized response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Eight of 10 people Reuters interviewed in wealthier and safer areas on Chicago’s North Side opposed any form of intervention from Trump, saying federal officers could fan tensions in the city and would not address underlying issues such as unemployment.

“I don’t see how the feds are going to help with anything,” said Michael Flaherty, a 53-year-old architect who lives in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood.

“They’re violent. Violence doesn’t fix violence.”

The view was often more nuanced on the South and West Sides, where a much higher proportion of residents have experienced violent crime.

Junior Jaber, 28, recalled the day four years ago when his friend Paul Hamilton, then 47, was killed by a stray bullet while walking his dog in Ogden Park.

“I was mad. He had nothing to do with anything,” said Jaber, who runs Englewood Food Mart, where Hamilton worked as a butcher. “We got to do something. It’s almost like a war zone out here.”

Jaber said he was all for it when he learned of Trump’s plan to send in federal agents.

“They should clean it all up. Just do their job,” said the 28-year-old father of two as he sold sodas, lottery tickets and pints of liquor.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr has said the reinforcements to Chicago do not involve the type of forces that were deployed to Portland and have been accused of civil rights violations and using excessive force.

Protesters said uniformed personnel without name tags or agency badges snatched young people off the streets into unmarked vans before eventually releasing them.

Protests have continued around the United States since the May 25 death of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis police custody. The U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday it would investigate the use of force in Portland and whether federal agents had proper identification.

Black Lives Matter activists, who have led protests against police brutality in Chicago, are suing federal officials to try to ensure agents do not violate civil rights. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has told residents all new federal resources would be “investigatory in nature” and vowed to pursue all available legal options if federal officers go beyond that.

‘INNOCENT BYSTANDERS’

While Chicago’s murder rate had been falling in recent years, there were 116 murders over the 28 days through July 19, an increase of nearly 200% compared with the same period in 2019, police department data shows.

Some residents of East Garfield Park, a poor neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side, support federal intervention after gang shootings hit unintended targets, said Damien Morris, director of violence prevention initiatives for local nonprofit Breakthrough.

“When you have women and kids getting shot – innocent bystanders – you have residents that feel like something needs to happen,” Morris said.

Trump sent a smaller number of special agents and law enforcement researchers to Chicago in 2017 after a spike in violent crime.

Phil Bridgeman, 49, said he opposes all federal law enforcement in Chicago. Even if the federal agents could help solve high-profile cases, he said, they will not solve the root causes of violent crime.

“It’s not going to help, it’s going to agitate,” said Bridgeman as he sold “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts in the middle of a busy boulevard.

Vaughn Bryant, executive director of anti-violence group Metropolitan Peace Initiatives, was concerned by “a greater threat to people’s freedom,” with the arrival of more agents.

In Englewood, a man who goes by the name Joe Pug sat in a lawn chair with several other people on a sidewalk opposite a small police station. The 49-year-old, who has lived in the neighborhood for most of his life, supports federal agents investigating shootings.

He said the South and West Sides also need massive investments in education and job creation, especially for young Black men.

“There is nothing here, nothing for them,” he said.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien and Tom Polansek in Chicago; Editing by Caroline Stauffer and Daniel Wallis)

Man shot in New Mexico protest over conquistador sculpture

(Reuters) – A man was shot and wounded on Monday during a protest near a museum in downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico, police said, where demonstrators were reported to be trying to tear down a sculpture of a 16th-century Spanish conquistador.

“The victim is reported to be in critical but stable condition,” the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) said in a tweet, adding that the incident had ended.

The Albuquerque Journal newspaper reported that the shooting erupted during a clash between protesters trying to pull down a statue of Juan de Onate and several heavily armed members of a civilian militia group called the New Mexico Civil Guard.

Police chief of Albuquerque, Michael Geier, said in a statement that police were receiving reports about vigilante groups possibly instigating the violence.

The confrontation occurred outside the Albuquerque Museum in the heart of the city’s Old Town district.

According to the Journal’s account, one man involved in a physical altercation with the protesters appeared to draw a gun and fire five shots after he was pushed onto the street, sending members of the crowd scurrying for cover as one person yelled, “Somebody got shot.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is currently assisting APD violent crime investigators as they interview individuals who were involved in the shooting, the tweet said.

“Police used chemical irritants and flash bangs to protect officers and detain individuals involved in the shooting. The individuals were disarmed and taken into custody for questioning.”

Video footage posted to social media from the scene appeared to show one man lying on the ground as several other people tried to render assistance. A separate clip showed three men lying face down and spread eagle on the pavement as police in riot gear stood over them, apparently making arrests. Another officer appeared to be on the ground as well.

Anti-racism protesters venting anger over last month’s death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis, have taken to destroying statutes honoring the U.S. Civil War’s Confederacy, as well as sculptures of imperialists, conquistadors and other historical figures associated with the subjugation of indigenous populations around the world.

The statue at the center of Monday’s protest in Albuquerque is part of a controversial sculpture called “La Jornada,” which depicts Onate, known for the 1599 massacre of a pueblo tribe, leading a group of Spanish settlers into what is now New Mexico.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Additonal reporting by Aishwarya Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Michael Perry)

Voices from U.S. protests against police brutality: ‘You can’t just sit on the sidelines’

By Makini Brice

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Americans have taken to the streets following the death of George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis on May 25 after a white police officer pinned his knee against his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Protesters and activists say Floyd’s death, captured on video, is a particularly stark example of why U.S. policing policies should be reformed, and particularly their treatment of black men and women.

Police-involved fatalities in the United States average nearly three deaths per day, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health showed. Black and Latino men in the United States are twice as likely as white men to die during interactions with police.

Americans of all ages and races are pushing for police reform. Here are five who marched on Saturday in Washington, D.C.

ZEKE THOMAS

Zeke Thomas, 30, who works at a child welfare agency, attended the protest with his five-year-old son, Jay, in part to “show him how to fight, the proper way to fight.”

Asked what he wanted to see emerge from these protests, Thomas said, “Change, like actions that show that black lives matter.” He added that he wanted to see reforms made within police departments on their use of force and their general culture.

Patrick Keyser, an Episcopal priest, poses for a portrait as he takes part in a protest against racial inequality, in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, in Washington, U.S. June 6, 2020. Picture taken June 6, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis

PATRICK KEYSER:

Patrick Keyser, 27, is an Episcopal priest who said he was attending the protest to show solidarity with the demonstrators and hoped they would lead to “an end to police brutality and the killing of black bodies at the hand of the police.”

“There comes a point where you can’t just sit on the sidelines. … I can’t quite put my hands on it, but there’s sort of this intangible spirit that I think anyone feels present here that are driving people to stand up peacefully.”

ANGELO VILLAGOMEZ:

Angelo Villagomez, 41, a resident of Washington, D.C. who is originally from the Northern Mariana Islands, said he hoped the protests would bring about a more just society.

“Today’s march is about ‘Black Lives Matter.’ It’s about George Floyd and all the young black men who lost their lives to” police brutality, the ocean conservationist said.

“People are listening maybe for the first time in their lives,” he added.

SAM GOLDMAN:

Sam Goldman, 33, drove to Washington, D.C. from her home of Philadelphia to be part of the protests. An organizer for the group Refuse Fascism, Goldman said she wanted to see an end to the presidency of Donald Trump.

“I genuinely do want to see the end to being murdered by the police … I want to see that there is no more police state,” Goldman said. She does not think those changes are possible if Trump wins the Nov. 3 election.

KATRINA FERNANDEZ

Katrina Fernandez, 42, is a homemaker who lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. The mother of eight children aged three to 23, said her family drove nearly two hours to the federal district to teach her children about social justice.

“I felt like the best thing that I could do was come out here and show them what it feels like to be on the front line of something that we really, really believe in and that we want to see a change in,” Fernandez said, who was at the protest with her husband and seven of her eight children. Her oldest son is in the Army and stationed in Afghanistan.

Fernandez said she wanted to see “bad cops” thrown off police departments and the convictions of the officers involved in Floyd’s killing.

“It’s a real bad shame that I feel more safe with my son overseas deployed in a war-torn country than I do on American soil as a black civilian in civilian clothes,” Fernandez said.

(Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Heather Timmons and Lisa Shumaker)