Who is Cortez Rice? Minnesota man arrested for harassing Kim Potter trial judge at home
Rice reportedly live-streamed himself entering the home of Judge Regina Chu, after protesters gathered outside to push for cameras at trial
Weeks after a protest outside Judge Regina Chu's home, a Minnesota man has been charged for harassing the judge in charge of the trial of Kim Potter. According to reports, 32-year-old Cortez Rice was charged with felony harassment with aggravated violations for entering the building where Judge Chu lived, during a November 6 protest outside her home.
Judge Chu is the Hennepin County Judge overseeing the trial of Potter, who shot and killed Duante Wright during a traffic stop on April 11, 2021. Potter has been charged with first and second-degree manslaughter and faces 10 years in jail if convicted, after mistaking her gun for her taser. The highly contentious trial as America on edge, as it could make Potter the second officer to be held accountable for killing Black people after Derek Chauvin was convicted earlier in 2021.
Potter's trial will take place at the same Hennepin County Courthouse where Chauvin's trial will take place, albeit overseen by Judge Chu. Given the high-profile nature of the trial, the judge earlier decided to controversially ban cameras in the courtroom, which she reversed days later in part thanks to the protest outside her home. On December 6, the full extent of the protests was revealed, after it came to light Rice was charged.
Who is Cortez Rice?
Originally from Minneapolis, Rice was caught hiding out in Waukesha, Wisconsin on December 6. We found several social media profiles linked to Rice, with his Twitter bio saying he is a "civil rights activist". According to his Instagram page, he is a member of the organization United We Walk, which has been prominently protesting in Minneapolis after the death of George Floyd.
According to Tennessee Star, Rice once falsely claimed to be Floyd's nephew. He only stopped making those claims after Floyd's family sent him a cease and desist letter in 2020. Apart from that, it appears Rice doesn't appear to have a history of legal troubles. His social media profiles are filled with his images and videos from protests. Little else is known about him, including where he studied and worked.
The Black Lives Matter protestor was part of a large group that descended on the Minneapolis Long Park neighborhood on November 6, after Judge Chu ruled that cameras wouldn't be allowed in the courtroom. She made that ruling on August 5, believing the pandemic was at an end and the public would be able to see the trial for themselves. But the judge then did a u-turn on November 9, days after the protest outside her home.
Charges against Rice
According to reports, Rice broke away from the protesters and entered the building, live streaming on YouTube as he did. According to the complaint against him, he said, "We on her heels. What she think (inaudible) we want cameras. The people deserve to know." He then left, but a complaint was quickly filed, with the judge saying the protester's "intention was to intimidate her" and "interfere with the judicial process."
On November 24, an arrest warrant was issued in Rice's name. He's been charged with felony harassment, a crime punishable by up to five years in prison and fines up to $10,000. It appears Rice fled Minneapolis because he was caught by police in Waukesha on November 29, after being pulled over for speeding. He's now currently in custody in Waukesha County Jail, awaiting extradition to Minnesota. Bail has been set at $50,000 cash, which fellow activist Chaz Neal is currently attempting to raise.
Days after the protest, on November 9, Judge Chu reversed her decision and allowed cameras in court noting the rise in Covid-19 cases. Three cameras will now cover proceedings but are barred from video recording jurors, Potter's family and Wright's family without their explicit consent. The trial will begin on December 8 and is expected to draw widespread attention just like Chauvin's.