Hundreds of Wisconsin National Guard troops have been activated ahead of an expected verdict in Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial next week, Gov. Tony Evers announced on Friday.
About 500 troops will be on hand outside of Kenosha and will respond “if requested by local law enforcement,” in the event of civil unrest following the jury’s decision, Evers said.
The guardsmen will be operating “in conjunction with hundreds of officers from volunteering law enforcement agencies,” the governor’s office said.
“We continue to be in close contact with our partners at the local level to ensure the state provides support and resources to help keep the Kenosha community and greater area safe,” Evers said in a statement.
Rittenhouse, 18, is charged with shooting dead Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and injuring of Gaige Grosskreutz, 27, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the night of Aug. 25, 2020. The teen testified that he acted in self-defense.
The defense rested its case on Thursday, and closing arguments are expected on Monday, at which point the jury will begin deliberations.
“The Kenosha community has been strong, resilient, and has come together through incredibly difficult times these past two years, and that healing is still ongoing,” Evers added. “I urge folks who are otherwise not from the area to please respect the community by reconsidering any plans to travel there and encourage those who might choose to assemble and exercise their First Amendment rights to do so safely and peacefully.”
The teen faces a possible mandatory life sentence on one count of first-degree intentional homicide in the killing of Huber, who was shot after striking Rittenhouse with a skateboard.
He also faces one count of first-degree reckless homicide in relation to Rosenbaum, who was the first person Rittenhouse shot after Rosenbaum chased him into a used car lot.