Wisconsin governor puts National Guard on standby ahead of Rittenhouse verdict

National Guard patrol outside the Kenosha County Courthouse on August 31, 2020. Gov. Tony Evers put 500 troops on standby in case local law enforcement needs assistance. File Photo by Alex Wroblewski/UPI

Nov. 13 (UPI) — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has authorized 500 National Guard troops to support local law enforcement in Kenosha as jurors go into deliberations next week in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.

Evers signed the order Friday as lawyers on both sides of the case prepare to deliver closing arguments Monday.

“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.

“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. 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.”

Evers said the 500 members of the Wisconsin National Guard will stand at the ready outside Kenosha and will respond to requests for assistance by local law enforcement if needed.

The Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department told WISN-TV in Milwaukee that it hadn’t requested the National Guard assistance.

“We have been in contact with local, state and federal law enforcement partners to ensure the safety of our community, but the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department has not yet officially requested the National Guard at this time,” the statement said.

Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder said Friday that he expects the jury in the Rittenhouse case to deliver a verdict next week.

Rittenhouse is on trial for the shooting deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and injuring Gaige Grosskreutz on Aug. 25, 2020, during protests related to the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

He faces charges of:

  • First-degree reckless homicide, use of a dangerous weapon
  • Two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, use of a dangerous weapon
  • First-degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon
  • Attempted first-degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon
  • Possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18
  • Failure to comply with an emergency order from state or local government

Prosecutors argued that Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time of the shooting, acted recklessly by attending the protest with an AR-15-style rifle, inciting fear and violence in those around him. Defense attorneys, however, said their client fired his gun in self-defense.

Schroeder said Friday he was thinking about whether to allow the jury to consider lesser charges when they go into deliberations.


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