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EXCLUSIVE: Family Member Of Michael Reinoehl, Killed By Police, Says They Were ‘Disappointed, But Not Too Surprised’

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Michael Forest Reinoehl, 48 and an Antifa supporter, was shot and killed on the scene by law enforcement on September 3 after an attempt to arrest him for the shooting and killing of a far-rightist during a Black Lives Matter protest in Portland, OR on August 29.

Reinoehl, a white man, was a suspect then later admitted to the death of the right-wing Trump supporter, Aaron J. Danielson, who had taken part in a pro-Trump caravan during the protest. Reinoehl, who was a consistent protester and was acting as security for the August 29 protest, was shot by the police as they closed in on him in a residential street in Portland.

Reinoehl admitted to VICE News that he had shot the man and explained that he had done it in the name of self-defense.

He claimed that his friend, who is a person of color, was about to get shot by Danielson. Reinoehl shot Danielson instead because he felt his friend and the people around them were in danger, he claimed.

Reinoehl said in the interview that he believes he was totally justified in his actions. “Had I not acted, I am confident that my friend and, I’m sure I, would have been killed,” he said to VICE. “I had no choice.”

Folkspaper spoke with a family member, who chose to stay anonymous, about the incident. They had first heard about the death through reporters who had been in contact to get a statement.

They said their initial reaction to the death was shock. “I’ve obviously been aware of the situation. It’s been going on all week with people contacting us wanting me to tell them things I can’t tell them because we broke contact with him 3 years ago,” they said.

The family member has had limited communication with Reinoehl because of escalating family drama. “He was the kind of person who reacted first and rationalized afterwards,” they said.

Letting out a big sigh, the family member admitted that they were not surprised by the news. With all the news around the protest, they suspected Reinoehl themselves.

“At least he admitted to it […] I wish he hadn’t brought a gun. I wish he hadn’t pulled it on somebody. I wish he hadn’t run away afterwards,” they said. “It all seems pretty standard for the kind of person he was. Disappointed, but not too surprised.”

The family member is estranged from Reinoehl, but they noted that when they did know him, he had issues with the authorities in general. They claim that he had a “‘the police system was broken and it was okay to take advantage of the system because the system would do that to you’ type of mentality,” they said.

While the member believes in “doing things the right way” non-violently, they still understand where Reinoehl was coming from. “I do understand the struggle of the causes he was fighting for. I do sympathize with that, I just don’t believe violence is the solution because it never was and never will,” they said.

The U.S. Marshals Service put out a statement claiming that the suspect, Reinoehl, was reported to be carrying firearms that threatened the safety of law enforcement officers at the time of confrontation. “Task force members responded to the threat and struck the suspect who was pronounced dead at the scene,” they said.

The incident came after a long series of protests that was most recently revived by the death of George Floyd by police, with nightly protests in Portland for months. The August 29 protest footage showed protesters getting pepper-sprayed and hit with paintball guns by the right-wing caravans.

Reinoehl’s family member expressed that they hope the Black Lives Matter movement achieves an impactful outcome, but that it won’t come through violence. “I don’t think Black Lives Matter is a violent organization. I hope for change,” they said.

“We believe peace can be accomplished even as heated as things are, because in the end we’re all just people. Most people are good and will listen if you can get through to them,” they concluded.