Deputy Chief Correspondent, West & Central Africa
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Mar 30, 2015

Students to fight gridlock at U.S. Senate simulator in Boston

BOSTON (Reuters) – The real U.S. Senate may be mired in gridlock, but officials hope a virtual one opening in Boston this week will allow students to show their elected elders in Washington how to get things done.

U.S. President Barack Obama will attend the inauguration of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate on Monday. Its centerpiece is a full-scale replica of the U.S. Senate chamber.

Mar 23, 2015

Boston bomb suspect influenced by Al Qaeda – expert witness

BOSTON (Reuters) – Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was heavily influenced by al Qaeda literature and lectures, some of which was found on his laptop, a counterterrorism expert testified at his trial on Monday.

The testimony cut to the heart one of America’s most closely watched court battles, with prosecutors painting Tsarnaev as a home-grown terrorist and his defence arguing he was a mostly normal American kid who came under the influence of his radical older brother.

Mar 23, 2015

Trial of Boston bomb suspect focuses on texts, laptop files

BOSTON (Reuters) – Jurors in the trial of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were shown text messages on Monday that prosecutors say he sent to a friend shortly after the attack, saying “U saw the news?… Better not text me my friend.”

FBI computer specialist Kevin Swindon said the texts came from Tsarnaev’s iPhone and were sent to Dias Kadyrbayev, a school friend from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Swindon said the texts were found in a backup file on Tsarnaev’s laptop computer.

Mar 17, 2015

Suspect in Ferguson, Missouri shooting of police bruised: lawyer

By Richard Valdmanis

FERGUSON, Mo. (Reuters) – A lawyer for the man accused of wounding two policemen during a protest rally outside the Ferguson, Missouri, police headquarters last week said on Monday his client was beaten when he was taken into custody, an allegation police called “completely false.”

Jeffrey L. Williams, 20, had bruising across his back, on both shoulders and his neck, and a welt on his head and a mark on his face, attorney Jerryl Christmas said, adding that he met with him for two hours on Monday but could not take pictures.

Mar 16, 2015

Suspect in Ferguson, Missouri shooting of police appears in court

By Richard Valdmanis

FERGUSON, Mo. (Reuters) – The man accused of wounding two policemen during a protest rally outside the Ferguson, Missouri, police headquarters last week appeared in court on Monday briefly and did not enter a plea.

The shooting was the latest in violent incidents that have punctuated months of demonstrations in Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb, since a white police officer shot dead unarmed black teen Michael Brown during a confrontation in August.

Mar 16, 2015

Ferguson turmoil draws U.S. evangelist’s rapid response team

FERGUSON, Missouri (Reuters) – Hours after two police officers were shot at a protest in Ferguson, Missouri, last week, a black Kenworth truck in North Carolina hauling a collapsible conference room began rolling down the highway toward the scene, intent on bringing peace and saving souls.

The truck, one of Christian evangelist Billy Graham’s Rapid Response Team vehicles, sped toward the latest U.S. crisis armed with chaplains trained to help people cope with everything from tornadoes to mass shootings.

Mar 16, 2015

Suspect charged in shooting of police officers in Ferguson, Missouri

By Richard Valdmanis

FERGUSON, Mo. (Reuters) – A 20-year-old man was charged on Sunday with first-degree assault in last week’s shooting of two policemen during a protest rally in Ferguson, Missouri, a crime that shocked a city that has been devastated by months of racial strife.

The suspect, Jeffrey L. Williams, has admitted to firing the shots that wounded the officers early on Thursday, said St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch.

Mar 15, 2015

Man charged in shooting of Ferguson, Missouri, police officers: prosecutor

FERGUSON, Missouri (Reuters) – A 20-year-old man was charged on Sunday with assault in the first degree for last week’s shooting of two police officers during a protest in the troubled city Ferguson, Missouri, a crime that was condemned by the White House.

The suspect, Jeffrey Williams, has admitted to firing the shots and was from the general St. Louis area, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch, adding, “it was not certain if he had been targeting police.”

Mar 14, 2015

City election to test Ferguson, Missouri’s faith in the ballot

FERGUSON, Missouri (Reuters) – After months of race-fueled street protests, residents of Ferguson, Missouri, will have a chance next month to press their demands in a different way: at the ballot box.

Eight candidates including four African Americans are vying for three available seats on Ferguson’s city council, promising change on a body that will be expected to introduce broad local reforms in a city shaken by the shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer last August.

Mar 14, 2015

Ferguson, Missouri, activists eye open-ended protests, national demands

By Richard Valdmanis and Nick Carey

FERGUSON, Mo. (Reuters) – Inside a crumbling brick building in a poor St. Louis suburb, Montague Simmons eyes a whiteboard cluttered with ideas, working alongside his team of activists as they contemplate the next move in what they describe as the struggle for black rights in America.

    Like other protest leaders in the St. Louis area, Simmons is determined to continue the near-daily demonstrations in Ferguson that have galvanized a national debate on race since the fatal shooting in August of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, by a white policeman.

    • About Richard

      "Richard is based in Reuters' Dakar bureau where he has helped lead coverage of two dozen countries in West and Central Africa since September 2009. He previously ran Reuters' energy coverage in the Americas as a senior editor based in New York."
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