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Donald Trump defends teen accused of killing Black Lives Matter protesters
1 September 2020, 06:00 | Updated: 1 September 2020, 06:37
Donald Trump has defended a teenager accused of killing two Black Lives Matter protesters, saying he was "very violently attacked" before opening fire.
Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, has been arrested and charged with shooting three people, two fatally, on Tuesday night in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Violent clashes had broke out in the city as protesters took to the streets after Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old black man, was shot seven times by police in front of his children. He has been left paralysed by his injuries.
Rittenhouse is currently facing five felony charges, which include first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, and possession of a dangerous weapon by a minor.
When asked about the incident, Trump told assembled reporters on Monday: "He was trying to get away from them I guess, it looks like, and he fell on then they very violently attacked him.
"It was something that we are looking at right now and it's under investigation, but I guess he was in very big trouble. He probably would've been killed. It's under investigation."
During the back-and-forth with journalists, Trump was also asked about another violent incident in Portland Oregon, in which a member of a right-wing group, Patriot Prayer, was killed during a clash between opposing groups.
Trump supporters had been firing paint pellets at BLM supporters prior to the shooting.
The victim has since been named as Aaron Danielson, although no arrests have been made in his death.
The US President said the shooting was "disgraceful".
"Well, I understand they had large numbers of people that were supporters, but that was a peaceful protest," he said.
"Paint as a defensive mechanism, paint is not bullets."
In an apparent dig at news outlets who Trump argues campaign against him, he added: "Your supporters, and they are your supporters indeed, shot a young gentleman who - and killed him, not with paint, but with a bullet.
"And I think it's disgraceful."
The Democratic nomination for President, Joe Biden, condemned what Trump said, saying it showed he "declined to rebuke violence".
In a statement, he said: "He wouldn't even repudiate one of his supporters who is charged with murder because of his attacks on others. He is too weak, too scared of the hatred he has stirred to put an end to it.
"So once again, I urge the President to join me in saying that while peaceful protest is a right — a necessity — violence is wrong, period. No matter who does it, no matter what political affiliation they have. Period."
Trump's comments came on the eve of a visit to Kenosha to make with law enforcement officials.
Despite calls for him to meet with Jacob Blake's family, Trump has declined as they wanted to involve lawyers, he said.