Protests - 2020
The most serious health crisis in a century, and the most serious economic crisis since 1929, were followed by most serious civil unrest in half a century. Protests occurred in at least 140 cities across the US by 01 June 2020, and the National Guard had been activated in at least 21 states.
Police officers were particularly targeting journalists, long denounced by Trump as "enemies of the people". Journalists covering protests against police brutality and racism across the U.S. found themselves part of the story over the weekend, with multiple reporters harassed, pepper-sprayed or injured. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, which since 2017 has documented cases of journalists attacked or harassed, was investigating more than 100 cases from the weekend. That compared with 100 to 150 cases annually, said Kirstin McCudden, the site’s managing editor. Early figures the Press Freedom Tracker showed at least 19 arrests, at least 36 cases of journalists hit by rubber bullets, and 76 assaults – 80% of which were by police – between May 28 and 31. The killing of George Floyd tossed a lit match into a keg of gunpowder. These mass protests gripped the nation at a time when a pandemic has claimed more than 100,000 lives, with more than 40 million unemployed, sky-high wage and income inequality and political polarization that is tearing the country apart.
More than 40 million Americans had filed for unemployment at the end of May, bringing the unemployment rate to around 25 percent. As the coronavirus worked its way across the United States, it cleaved the country's workforce in two: those who had the ability to work from home, and those who did not. People whose job required them to show up in person were among the hardest hit in the waves of layoffs, and also those on the low end of the US pay scale. People of color were disproportionately affected by layoffs.
Black Americans were dying of COVID-19 at three times the rate of white people. Black Americans represent 13.4% of the American population, but counties with higher black populations account for more than half of all COVID-19 cases and almost 60% of deaths. Across the country, African Americans have died at a rate of 50.3 per 100,000 people, compared with 20.7 for whites, 22.9 for Latinos and 22.7 for Asian Americans.
Armed white demonstrators occupied various state capitols to protest lockdown rules and shouted, intimidated and even spit at police officers, who handled them with the utmost care, in a glaring reminder that whites are treated differently by police. In February, video showed Ahmaud Arbery, a black man, being shot by two white vigilantes while out for a jog in Georgia. In another video, a woman in New York's Central Park is seen calling the police on a black man who asked her to follow park rules and leash her dog, immediately telling them that "an African American man" was there and falsely claiming he was "threatening" her and the dog.
Protesters took to the streets in cities across the United States to vent their anger over the death of George Floyd and call for change, as police in many areas sought to enforce overnight curfews. Demonstrations began 27 May 2020 in Minneapolis, where George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died after being held handcuffed, face down, with a police officer’s knee on the back of his neck for more than eight minutes.
The officer who held down Floyd, Derek Chauvin, was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter four days later. He, and three other officers who were present and did not intervene, were fired hours later. The Minnesota attorney general’s office took the lead in prosecuting the case.
The marchers said they were protesting not just harsh police treatment of black men and women, but also systemic racism in the United States. Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Detroit and Philadelphia are among the nearly 40 cities that imposed orders banning marchers from the streets after dark. The governors of Texas and Virginia have imposed states of emergency. Some big city mayors, such as San Francisco's London Breed, say their curfews are indefinite. Similar events played out in many cities where largely peaceful protests later turned into scenes of some people setting fires and smashing storefronts. Police holding shields and batons sought to push back lines of protesters, launching tear gas into crowds.
Officers in Washington used tear gas and stun grenades to clear a crowd of more than 1,000 people from Lafayette Park across the street from the White House. The crowd had marched from Howard University and focused their anger on police, shouting, “No justice, no peace, no racist police.” In a tweet sent just before 1 a.m. Trump said “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” The phrase dates back to a hard-line Miami police chief in the late 1960s.
Trump was taken on the night of 29 May 2020 by the Secret Service to a White House underground bunker out of an abundance of caution for a brief period. The lights that usually illuminate the outside of the White House at night were turned off. Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered an overnight curfew for the city and activated the DC National Guard to assist police.
Shortly before midnight 31 May 2020, there were multiple fires burning near the White House. Shortly after, the Associated Press reported that the entire Washington, DC National Guard had called in to help with the protest response. District firefighters said one of the blazes extinguished was in the basement of the historic St. John's Episcopal Church, just blocks from the White House.
National Guard troops also worked with police in Atlanta to enforce an overnight curfew in the southern city. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms 31 May 2020 fired two police officers and put three others on desk duty until accusations of excessive use of force the previous night could be reviewed.
There was no curfew in New York City, where during the day police kept a distance from protesters but at night there were instances of officers charging into crowds to clear areas and make arrests, as well as protesters throwing objects at police.
Trump deepened outrage on 01 May 2020 by posing at a church across from the White House clutching a Bible after law enforcement officers used tear gas and rubber bullets to clear protesters. Trump posed for pictures with his daughter, Ivanka, and US Attorney General William Barr at St John's Episcopal Church near the White House. Trump, who is not particularly religious, casually brandished the Bible upside down and backwards in his hand. The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church diocese in Washington DC, Michael Curry, was among those who criticised Trump's use of the historic church for a photo opportunity.
On 03 June 2020 Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis Police Department officer behind George Floyd's death, was charged with second-degree murder. The three other cops who were present at the scene of the crime have been charged with aiding and abetting. Court records reveal that Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng all faced charges of aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter. Chauvin's charge was also upgraded to second-degree murder; however, he still faced the original third-degree murder charge and a charge of second-degree manslaughter.
Pat Robertson, an influential Christian leader, rebuked President Donald Trump for his threats to call in the US military against civilians and his hardline stance against the recent protests over the killing of George Floyd. Robertson opened his nightly "700 Club" television show on 02 June 2020 by saying the political moment in the US now calls for compassion and reassurance, not the threats of dominance and military force that President Trump offered in recent days.
"It seems like now is the time to say, 'I understand your pain. I want to comfort you. I think it's time we love each other'. But the president took a different course. He said, 'I am the president of law and order'," Robertson said. "And he issued a heads up. He said: 'I'm ready to send in military troops if the nation's governors don't act to quell the violence that has rocked American cities'. Matter of fact, he spoke of them as being jerks," Robertson said. "You just don't do that. Mr president. It isn't cool," he said.
The rebuke was surprising because Robertson, who is one the founding leaders of the white, evangelical Christian movement in the US, had been a consistent supporter of Trump.
Since 2015, over 1,200 black people had been shot and killed by police, and that doesn’t include those who died in police custody or were killed using other methods. At 13 percent of the US population, black people are shot at a disproportionate rate – three times more than their white counterparts. Years of police brutality and misconduct had previously sparked countless marches and debates on reform. Tighter restrictions on when and how police officers can use force – such as putting someone in a chokehold, shooting a moving vehicle or warning before shooting – appear to substantially reduce killings.
In the South, policing evolved from white vigilante slave patrols that enforced slavery laws; in the North, it developed as a way to control an underclass of blacks, Native Americans and immigrants.
One systemic issue is the militarisation of local police forces. The Federal 1033 program, the Department of Justice’s COPS Office, and homeland security grants have funneled billions of dollars in military hardware into US police departments to advance a “war on crime” approach.
A report by the ACLU examined the consequences of this, stating that primarily low-income neighbourhoods are turned into warzones. Officers are encouraged to adopt a “warrior mentality” and see people they are supposed to serve as enemy combatants.
Racism is systemic, systematic, and nowhere near gone. Many white Americans cannot admit that racism remains an inherent societal problem and state structures are in dire need of reform to achieve equal treatment for the citizens they purport to serve. This inability of so much of white America to come to terms with its own privilege and empathize with minorities' experiences is the single largest roadblock to progress and reconciliation. Racism-tinged events no longer startle even America’s closest allies, though many watched coverage of the often-violent protests with growing unease.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser announed 05 June 2020 that "The section of 16th street in front of the White House is now officially “Black Lives Matter Plaza”. DC officials installed a new street sign above the intersection outside St. John's Church, where Trump made a controversial visit after Police and National Guard troops forcibly removed peaceful demonstrators. Artists with MuralsDC, a Department of Public Works project, and volunteers painted "BLACK LIVES MATTER" in yellow capital letters down a two-block stretch north of the intersection.
After weeks of protests, Seattle demonstrators successfully ousted police officers from the East Precinct, forcing them to shutter the building and leave, and attempts at negotiating a police presence have been unsuccessful. Negotiations between protesters and the police had been at a standstill as authorities struggled to identify who was at the helm of the leaderless movement inside the autonomous zone.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan on 11 June 2020 defended the protesters who declared an “autonomous zone” on the city’s streets as “patriotic.” Durkan also said President Trump’s threat to send in federal forces to crack down on the protesters was “unconstitutional and illegal.” Protesters occupied a six-block perimeter dubbed “CHAZ” — short for the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” — around the East Precinct, which was boarded up and deserted on 08 June 2020.
On 11 June 2020, Donald Trump told Governor Jay Inslee and Durkan if they didn't take back the city "now," he would. Trump wrote: "Radical Left Governor Jay Inslee and the Mayor of Seattle are being taunted and played at a level that our great Country has never seen before. Take back your city NOW. If you don't do it, I will. This is not a game. These ugly Anarchists must be stooped [sic] IMMEDIATELY. MOVE FAST!"
Mayor Durkan's response got the most attention after she tweeted: "Make us all safe. Go back to your bunker." Durkan said “Unfortunately, our President wants to tell a story about domestic terrorists who have a radical agenda and are promoting a conspiracy that fits his law-and-order initiatives... “It’s simply not true. Lawfully gathering and expressing First Amendment rights, demanding we do better as a society, and providing true equity for communities of color is not terrorism. It’s patriotism.” "We've had blocks of Seattle in Capitol Hill shut down every summer for everything from block parties to Pride," Durkan said during a 11 June 2020 press briefing. "This is really not that much of an operational challenge, but we want to make sure the businesses and residents feel safe."
The Free Capitol Hill movement's list of 30 demands touches on every facet of society, including overhauling the criminal justice system and reforming health care for black patients. Other Free Capitol Hill demands include reforms to education that increase the focus on black and Native American history, free college, and reallocating funds from the Seattle Police Department to socialized health and medicine, free public housing, public education and naturalization services.
Members of the African American Community Advisory Council, which works with the Seattle Police department to improve policing in the city, spoke out in the Chaz Zone on 11 June 2020. Protesters from the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” shouted down the group of black women who accused them of hijacking the Black Lives Matter.
The practice of pulling down statues as a form of political protest probably arose only a few brief years after the practiec of errecting statues to glorify some person or event. The wholesale pulling down of statues is a routine practice in times of revolution. In ancient times, the statue of Baal was pulled down, broken, and burnt: the temple itself was destroyed, and made a privy, and the Lord promised that Jehu's children should sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation. Over the centuries, many monumental statues were broken to pieces, the bronze melted down to csat new statues, and the alabaster powdered for cement. In July 1776, the equestrian statue of George Third in New York City, which Tory pride and folly reared in the year 1770, was by the sons of freedom laid prostrate in the dirt, "the just desert of an ungrateful tyrant. The lead wherewith this monument was made is to be run into bullets,to assimilate with the brain of our infatuated enemies, who, to gain a pepper-corn, have lost an empire". The fall of the Shah of Iran in 1979, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 were all marked by such destruction of statuary. Many cities and organisations have taken steps to remove Confederate symbols, which have long stirred controversy because of their association with racism. Monuments from the civil war era or associated with slavery and the colonisation of Native Americans by Europeans have been pulled down by protesters. Confederate statues and statues of other historical figures, including slave traders and Christopher Columbus, were toppled throughout the U.S. and around the world.
- On 04 June 2020, Virginia's Governor Ralph Northam announced that a statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee would be removed from Richmond.
- on 10 June 2020 demonstrators beheaded four Confederate statues in Portsmouth VA before pulling one down using a tow rope.
- On 11 June 2020 a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis was toppled in Richmond, Virginia.
- Statues of Columbus in Boston, Miami and Virginia have been vandalised. A three-metre tall (10ft) bronze statue of Columbus was toppled in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The Columbus statue in Boston, which stands on a plinth at the heart of town, was beheaded.
- On 20 June 2020, following a day of peaceful protests celebrating Juneteenth, protesters pulled down and burned the statue of Confederate Gen. Albert Pike
- On 21 June 2020 in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, protestors toppled a statue of Francis Scott Key, the composer of the National Anthem and a slave owner
- On 21 June 2020 protesters pulled down a statue of Ulysses S Grant — the Union general responsible for the defeat of the Confederacy — because he owned a slave.
On 22 June 2020, protesters tried to pull down a statue of former US President Andrew Jackson near the White House before being dispersed by police with pepper-spray at Lafayette Square, where the Jackson statue is located. The 19th-century president's ruthless treatment of Native Americans has made his statue a target of demonstrators protesting the US's legacy of racial injustice.
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt was at the scene on Monday and issued a statement. "Let me be clear: we will not bow to anarchists. Law and order will prevail, and justice will be served," said Bernhardt.
Donald Trump said 23 June 2020 he had authorised the government to arrest anyone caught trying to tear down monuments or statues, threatening they could be jailed for 10 years. Trump said the new order applies "retroactively" so those who previously participated in bringing down memorials could be arrested. "I have authorised the federal government to arrest anyone who vandalises or destroys any monument, statue or other such federal property in the US with up to 10 years in prison, per the Veteran's Memorial Preservation Act," the president wrote.
Commenting as he departed the White House for a trip to Arizona, Trump reiterated his threat and said, "I will have an executive order very shortly, and all it's really going to do is reinforce what's already there, but in a more uniform way." The federal statute Trump referred to subjects anyone who willfully injures or destroys, or attempts to injure or destroy, any structure, plaque, statue or other monument on public property commemorating the service of any person or persons in the armed forces of the US to fines, up to 10 years imprisonment, or both.
The intent and effect of the campaign to pull down offending statues, and more generally to obliterate offending celebrations of offensive history, is to recenter the historical narrative away from conquering white men towards the liberation struggles of peoples of color. History is what is taught, and the rudiments of a shared historical narrative are the foundation stones of current political culture. In the 19th Century, British schoolboy history was pretty much kings and battles, and American history as taught by her monments is very much Presidents and wars.
"A People's History of the United States" by historian Howard Zinn chronicled American history from the bottom up, throwing out the official version taught in schools - with its emphasis on great men in high places - to focus on the street, the home, and the workplace. By the middle of the 21st Century, the United States will no longer be a white majority country, and it is quite possible that American politics will be dominated by people of color. It could make sense that America's monuments would come to deprecate white men in high places, and celebrate liberation struggles.
Thousands across the country came together 30 June 2020 to protest the death of 23-year-old Elijah McClain, who died after being put in a chokehold while in the custody of the Aurora Police Department in Colorado. On 24 August 2019, McClain was on his way home from a convenience store when he was stopped by three white officers after a 911 caller described a "suspicious person” matching his description. While the caller reported a "suspicious" person, they made no mention of any crimes. Officers claimed McClain resisted contact, which prompted them to wrestle him to the ground and place him in a chokehold. In a video, McClain can be heard telling the officers: "I can't breathe correctly.... I was just going home. I’m an introvert. I’m just different. That’s all. I’m so sorry. I have no gun. I don’t do that stuff. I don’t do any fighting. Why are you attacking me? I don’t even kill flies. I don’t eat meat. But I don’t judge people, I don’t judge people who do eat meat. Forgive me. All I was trying to do was become better ... I will do it ... I will do anything." Paramedics were then called, and they administered the sedative Ketamine. On the way to the hospital McClean suffered cardiac arrest and was declared brain-dead. He was taken off life support days later.
Portland had seen more than two months of often violent demonstrations following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. In early July, President Donald Trump sent more federal agents to the city to protect the federal courthouse, but local officials said their presence made things worse. On 31 July 2020, Trump tweeted "Homeland Security is not leaving Portland until local police complete cleanup of Anarchists and Agitators!" Activists and Oregon officials urged people at the 01 August 2020 protest in Portland to re-center the focus on Black Lives Matter, three days after the Trump administration agreed to reduce the presence of federal agents.
Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth went on a rant 25 January 2018, suggesting that 5 arrested suspects -- all Black -- were "not worth saving" and should be locked up for life over a retail theft and car chase incident. The Sheriff went on to say it's time to stop being politically correct -- and though he specifically claimed race was not a factor -- he insisted "these people" should be put away for good. Later in his speech, Beth said ... "In this country, in this community, in this state, we have to get to the point where we will no longer put up with the garbage people that fill our communities. They are a cancer to our society." He said “Let’s put them in jail. Let’s stop them from truly, at least some of these males, going out and getting 10 other women pregnant and having small children.... Let’s put them away. At some point we have to stop being politically correct. And I don’t care what race, I don’t care how old they are, if there’s a threshold that they cross, these people have to be warehoused, no recreational time.”
The city of Kenosha was rocked by protests since 23 August 2020, when police shot Black American Jacob Blake in the back at close range as he walked away from two officers and opened his car door, according to a bystander video that went viral. Three of his young sons were in the car at the time. Blake, 29, was hit by four of the seven shots fired and left paralysed and "fighting for his life", his family and lawyers said. Crowds destroyed dozens of buildings and set more than 30 fires in the city's downtown. There were 34 fires associated with that unrest, with 30 businesses destroyed or damaged along with an unknown number of residences.
A three-count criminal complaint against Blake filed on 06 July 2020 included criminal trespass, third-degree sexual assault and disorderly conduct. The 29-year-old was accused of a Class G felony sexual assault - which could carry a maximum 10-year prison term - and two counts of domestic abuse involving trespass and disorderly conduct.
According to the probable cause statement on May 3, 2020 a Kenosha police officer responded to the very same address where Blake was shot at on August 24, 2020 for a report that an ex-boyfriend had broken into the residence and stolen vehicle keys, a vehicle debit card before fleeing. The report states at about 6am the victim was woken up by Jacob Blake, who was standing over her saying, 'I want my shit.' As the victim laid on her back, Blake, 'suddenly and without warning, reached his hand between her legs, penetrated her vaginally with a finger, pull it out and sniffed it, and said, ''Smells like you've been with other men.''
In September 2015, police arrested Blake after he pulled a gun at a bar in Racine, Wis. He was charged with one felony count of resisting arrest and "one misdemeanor count each of carrying a concealed weapon, carrying a firearm while intoxicated, endangering safety-use of a dangerous weapon, and disorderly conduct," according to the Racine County Eye. Blake was charged in Racine County Circuit Court, but felony and misdemeanor cases that were dismissed or acquitted only display in the database for two years after they were resolved.
Three NBA games were canceled Wednesday 26 August 2020 along with several Major League Baseball contests, Major League Soccer matches, and the Women's National Basketball Association. The NHL also canceled playoff games scheduled for Thursday and Friday. A number of National Football League teams refused to hold practices Thursday and play was halted at the Western and Southern Open tennis tournament in New York. The athletes' refusal to play was sparked by Sunday's shooting of Jacob Blake by a white police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The latest campaign of athletes speaking out against racial injustice began exactly four years ago when quarterback Colin Kaepernick of the NFL's San Francisco 49rs refused to stand during the playing of the national anthem before a preseason game.
The Kenosha protests had drawn self-styled militias, patrolling the streets with rifles. Usually White men, they had weapons slung over their shoulders or at the ready while standing guard outside businesses to protect them from looters or arsonists. A Facebook event was posted by Kenosha Guard, a group that described itself as a militia in an open letter addressed to Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis and posted on the group’s Facebook page. The letter said the group had “mobilized” people to protect the city. “It is evident, that no matter how many officers, deputies, and other law enforcement officers that are here, you will still be outnumbered,” the group said in the letter. The Kenosha Guard event was called “Armed Citizens to Protect our Lives and Property” and called for citizens to join them to “take up arms and defend our [sic] city tonight from the evil thugs.” Armed groups of white men began gathering in different clusters in Civic Center Park. Some were in full camouflage outfits with long rifles. Others were in t-shirts and jeans with bulletproof vests under their rifle straps.
Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth said he had been asked by a group to deputize armed citizens to respond to rioters in Kenosha. “Oh, hell no,” he said. “What a scary, scary thought that would be in my world,” he said. “Part of the problem with this group is they create confrontation ... That doesn’t help us."
A third night of street protests over the police shooting of a Black man erupted into gun violence late 25 August 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin, when two people were shot and killed by Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17 year old white man who appeared to be a member of the white supremacist BoogalooBoys. The victims, both white, were named as Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, of Kenosha and Anthony Huber, 26, of Silver Lake, 15 miles west of the city. Rittenhouse also shot and wounded and Gaige Grosskreutz, 26, who was in Kenosha with the Milwaukee-based social justice group the People's Revolution Movement. Grosskreutz had volunteered as a medic at Black Lives Matter protests across Milwaukee this summer. A local business owner said the three activists were known in town as peaceful demonstrators. Crowds chased the man running down the street with a rifle after they believed he had shot another man. One pursuer took a flying kick at him after he fell to the ground, and another tried to grab his weapon. He appeared to be shot at close range and fell to the ground. Huber, like Rosenbaum, tried to take the rifle Rittenhouse out of his hands. Huber died for his bravery.
Right wing sources soon claimed that Jacob Rosenbaum was a convicted Pedophile and Child Rapist [these claims were soon retracted], Anthony Huber had been convicted of misdemeanor strangulation and Domestic Abuse, and that Gaige Grosskreutz was had a felony burglary conviction and was illegally carrying a gun. At the time, all three had been properly adjudicated and were freely at large. None were believed to have been authorized for "shoot on sight, do not aprehend" treatment, the implicit subtext of those who were publicizing their priors.
According to witness accounts and video footage, police apparently let the gunman walk past them and leave the scene with a rifle over his shoulder and his hands in the air as members of the crowd were yelling for him to be arrested because he had shot people. Wisconsin is an open-carry state, meaning anyone over 18 who can purchase a handgun or rifle can carry it in the open without a permit.
According the Kenosha City Police Chief Daniel Miskinis, "Persons were shot. Everybody involved was out after the curfew. I'm not going to make a great deal of that. But the point is that the curfew is in place to protect... Had persons involved not been out involved in violation of that perhaps the situation that unfolded would not have happened." Miskinis said, “Across this nation, there have been armed civilians who come out to exercise their Constitutional right and to potentially protect property.”
Video images posted online showed a series of disturbing incidents involving Rittenhouse. In one, he is seen grabbing water bottles being handed out of the turret of a police-armed vehicle. Rittenhouse is at a gas station with other armed men, who claimed they were protecting businesses. The officer tells him, “We appreciate what you guys are doing. We really do.” That statement would later come back to haunt Kenosha Police Chief Miskinis.
Illinois police announced the next day that they had arrested the juvenile in connection with the shooting. Prosecutors charged Kyle Rittenhouse with 5 felonies -- one count of first-degree intentional homicide (Huber), one count of first-degree reckless homicide (Rosenbaum), 2 counts of first-degree reckless endangerment and one count of attempted first-degree intentional homicide.
Anger over the shooting spilled into the streets of Kenosha and other cities, including Los Angeles, Wisconsin's capital of Madison and in Minneapolis. Anti-racism protesters clashed with police in Portland, Oregon, and Louisville, Kentucky on 25 August 2020, part of a wave of national Black Lives Matter protests that continued since the May 25 death of a Black man in Minneapolis, George Floyd, who was pinned to the street under the knee of a White police officer. Police arrested more than 60 people in a protest march in Louisville, Kentucky organised for Breonna Taylor, a Black woman killed in March by police officers who burst into her apartment.
Not to put too fine a point on matters, but Jacob Blake was shot dead in consequence of offenses that seem to have amounted to creating a public disturbance [a Class B misdemeanor, with a penalty of a fine not to exceed $1,000 or imprisonment not to exceed 90 days, or both] or at worst refusing to comply with an officer's lawful attempt to take him into custody [a Class I felony with a fine not to exceed $10,000 or imprisonment not to exceed 3 years and 6 months, or both]. But police allowed Rittenhouse to walk free, even though he attempted to surrender at the scene of the crime, and only took him into custody the next day, on charges of that included first-degree intentional homicide [a Class A felony with a penalty of life imprisonment] and first-degree reckless homicide [a Class B felony with a penalty of imprisonment not to exceed 60 years].
Trump invoked Portland as a liberal city overrun with violence in a speech at the Republican National Convention as part of his “law and order” re-election campaign theme. Trump and other speakers at the convention evoked a violent, dystopian future if Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden wins in November and pointed to Portland as a cautionary tale for what would be in store for Americans.
Trump supporters across the country were out on 29 August 2020 showing their backing for the president. The Portland protest was one of many that Donald Trump's supporters staged across the country, with hundreds of people congregating in Los Angeles, Georgia and beyond to celebrate their president and rally for his re-election.
In Portland - where there had been 95 nights of unrest in the wake of the May 25 shooting of George Floyd - more than 600 cars flying Trump flags and banners set off in a convoy around and through the city, after tense scenes at their meeting point and clashes with counter-protesters. Attendees were encouraged to bring their guns, and conceal-carry them, in a video posted previewing the event. Some of those at the start, however, were openly flaunting their assault rifles. As the convoy of Trump vehicles entered the city center, Trump supporters sitting in the back of pick ups used pepper spray on counter-protesters. Eggs were thrown at their trucks and cars, and the Trump supporters retaliated by turning paintball guns on the crowd, allegedly firing ball bearings.
One person was shot dead on 29 August 2020 in Portland as Trump supporters clashed with BLM activists. The man was wearing a hat with the insignia of Patriot Prayer, a far-right group based in Portland that has regularly attended, hosted and engaged in violence at Portland protests through the years. The man was also wearing a “Thin Blue Line” patch on his shorts, indicating support for the police. Far-right counter protesters had remained largely absent from those demonstrations — until the past couple weeks. Tension has gradually ratcheted up in Portland the previous weekend, when groups like the Proud Boys hate group, which has regularly engaged in violence at Portland protests, showed up to counter anti-fascist demonstrators. No one was immediately arrested following the shooting.
And outside the White House, chaotic scenes unfolded following another night of Black Lives Matter protests that saw police clash with demonstrators, striking them with rubber bullets and detonating stun grenades, as they moved to clear out crowds. Hundreds of protesters had gathered at Black Lives Matter Plaza to rally against police brutality and racial injustice.
A far-left activist suspected of killing a right-wing protester in Portland was shot dead by police in Washington state as they tried to arrest him, local law officials said 04 September 2020. The man, identified in US media reports as Michael Forest Reinoehl, was killed as he ran from four officers. The man appeared to be armed and officers fired several shots into the vehicle before the man fled, Brady added. Several more shots were then fired. According to investigators, the officers fired 37 rounds, killing Reinoehl immediately.
Reinoehl had previously commented on the shooting of Danielson, telling Vice News "I could have sat there and watched them kill a friend of mine, a man of color. But I wasn't going to do that." He added "I felt I had no choice but to do what I did". The fugitive task force hunting Reinoehl did not use sirens or marked vehicles and did not announce they were police before shooting and killing him. A number of witnesses said that the officers began firing as soon as they pulled up.
In an interview with the Fox News host Jeanine Pirro on Sept. 12, Trump even appeared to seek credit for Reinoehl’s death. “Now we sent in the US marshals for the killer, the man that killed the young man in the street. Two and a half days went by, and I put out [on Twitter], ‘When are you going to go get him?’ And the US marshals went in to get in, and in a short period of time, they ended in a gunfight. This guy was a violent criminal, and the US marshals killed him. And I’ll tell you something — that’s the way it has to be. There has to be retribution when you have crime like this.”
During his rally on 14 September 2020 in Minden, Nevada, Trump alluded to Reinoehl’s killing and lauded US marshals for doing a “great job,” adding, darkly, “you know what I mean.”
On 15 October 2020, President Trump took credit for the deputy marshals' actions. “I said, ‘What happened?’” Trump told a crowd of his supporters. “Well, we haven’t arrested him. Two days, three days went by. We sent in the U.S. Marshals. Took 15 minutes, it was over. Fifteen minutes, it was over; we got him.... “They knew who he was, They didn’t want to arrest him, and 15 minutes — that ended.”
Trump’s remarks appear to admit that Reinoehl’s death at the hands of law enforcement was an extrajudicial murder. Just minutes before Reinoehl’s death was announced, President Donald Trump tweeted a demand that the police take action to apprehend Danielson’s killer. “Do your job, and do it fast. Everybody knows who this thug is,” Trump declared.
Attorney General William Barr, who said in a press release posted on the Justice Department’s website that the killing of an “admitted Antifa member” was “a significant accomplishment in the ongoing effort to restore law and order.”
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