Donald Trump backs gunman Rittenhouse after murder acquittal as US on riot alert

Kyle Rittenhouse is cleared of all charges in Kenosha shootings

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Rittenhouse was cleared of two counts of homicide, one count of attempted homicide and two counts of recklessly endangering safety by a jury in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Friday. The decision sparked protests across America and a full-scale riot in Portland, Oregon. In a case that has sharply divided America, the jury of five men and seven women decided after four days of deliberation that Rittenhouse – who collapsed in tears as the forewoman read the verdicts – shot dead two men and wounded a third in self-defence after being attacked by an angry mob.

All three victims, one of whom had multiple child sex convictions, were white. But the issue of race hung over the case because the shootings happened during civil disorder over alleged police brutality.

Prosecutors branded the 18-year-old former police youth cadet a “vigilante” and claimed he went “looking for trouble” – armed with his AR-15 assault rifle – after Kenosha had been devastated by two nights of rioting in August last year. After the verdict, President Joe Biden called for peace but said the unanimous decision “will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included”.

But Mr Trump was quick to disagree with his successor.

He posted: “Congratulations to Kyle Rittenhouse for being found INNOCENT of all charges. It’s called being found NOT GUILTY – and by the way, if that’s not self-defence, nothing is!”

Demonstrations in Los Angeles, Oakland in California, and Brook­­lyn in New York City, were largely peaceful but a protest in Portland, Oregon, was declared a riot.

A mob of 200 destroyed property and hurled bottles and other missiles at police.

There were also reports of widespread looting and vandalism in Chicago.

A young woman was dragged away in handcuffs after scrawling “white supremacists are cowards” on the steps of the courthouse in Kenosha where Rittenhouse was acquitted.

Last night, 500 National Guard troops – drafted in as reinforcements for the police by Wisconsin governor Tony Evers – remained on standby as the Midwestern city braced itself for further unrest.

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