MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The Minneapolis Black Lives Matter activist charged with intimidating the judge presiding over the trial for former police officer Kim Potter was ordered held without bond on Tuesday – meaning he will remain jailed at least for the first two weeks of the high profile case involving Daunte Wright’s death.
Cortez Rice’s defense lawyer tried to argue that his client’s comments while livestreaming himself at a downtown Minneapolis condominium on Nov. 6 were taken out of context by “White supremacist type groups” who reposted snippets of the video online.
Minneapolis civil rights attorney Jordan Kushner asserted that Rice’s participation in a protest at the assumed home of Judge Regina Chu were within his constitutional First Amendment protections of free speech.
“Once put in context,” the video will show Rice was not trying to threaten the judge, Kushner said.
Judge Bastian, however, ordered Rice, 32, held without bail because he allegedly violated probation for a third time following his 2017 conviction for felony possession of a firearm. Bastian agreed to reconsider his decision to deny bond during the next court hearing scheduled for Dec. 20 at 1:30 p.m.
The criminal complaint from Hennepin County details how Rice participated in a protest outside a Minneapolis apartment building to demand Chu reverse her order banning Potter’s trial from being broadcast. Rice allegedly took a step farther by live-streaming himself on YouTube and climbing to the 12th floor. He spurted threatening language outside the unit believed to be where Chu lived, the complaint obtained by Fox News Digital says.
“We on her heels,” he shouted, adding that he was “waiting for the gang to get up here.” Continuing to use profanity once back outside, Rice addressed Chu by name, saying, “We demand transparency. We’d hate you to get kicked out of your apartment.”
Since George Floyd’s death on Memorial Day 2020, protesters have increasingly adopted the tactic of targeting private homes.
It happened to Potter’s home in Champlin, Minn., costing the suburb thousands of dollars in security measures before the house was eventually sold and the ex-Brooklyn Center police officer’s family moved. Demonstrations also have been seen outside the homes of the former head of the Minneapolis police union, as well as the residence of a use-of-force expert who testified in the trial for Derek Chauvin.
Prosecutor Judith Cole noted Tuesday that Rice did not receive permission from his probation officer to leave the state of Minnesota before he was apprehended in Wisconsin last week. Kushner claimed Rice could not reach the officer and made the call to go anyway to attend a last-minute funeral.
Seen in an orange jumpsuit and a mask, Rice at first threw his hands up and shook his head before reluctantly signing a waiver of extradition notice on camera during Tuesday’s Zoom proceeding. Kushner briefed his client in a break-out room before Rice signed the piece of paper – but the private virtual session ended before he was finished, and the judge said that it shouldn’t take so long for the lawyer to explain the waiver to his client.
During the same court hearing, Judge Bill Koch set bail at $20,000 for Rice on the felony harassment charge related to the incident at Chu’s home. That amount was lower than the $50,000 without conditions and the $30,000 with conditions requested by prosecutors.
Conditions include maintaining contact with his supervising agent, remaining law-abiding without violating any federal, state, or local law, attending all scheduled court appearances, refraining from possessing any weapons including firearms or knives, signing a waiver of extradition, remaining at least three blocks away from the Hennepin County Government Center or any judicial building unless he’s there for his own hearings and staying away from where Chu or her staff live, work, or attend school. Rice must also follow all treatment requirements under condition of probation.
Rice will still remain behind bars until his next court appearance on Dec. 20 – which means Potter’s trial will have been underway for over two weeks. Opening arguments are slated to begin Wednesday.
Despite Rice’s criminal record, Kushner painted his client as a “community activist who works with families of victims of police violence.” Rice also works as a union carpenter, according to his lawyer, and routinely helps distribute food and clothing as part of his volunteer work.
While many attendees of Tuesday’s Zoom hearing changed their usernames to show support for Rice, Kushner highlighted that his client had strong ties to the community and allegedly has no history of failing to appear for his previous court hearings. Kushner said his client has “no history of violence of any sort” related to protesters or community activism, affirming that Rice is “not a threatening figure of any sort.”