Kyle Rittenhouse trial: 500 National Guard members on standby as Wisconsin prepares for unrest

Closing arguments in closely watched case begin on 15 November, with verdict to follow

Alex Woodward
New York
Friday 12 November 2021 21:40 GMT
Rittenhouse Judge
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Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has authorised 500 National Guard service members to support local law enforcement preparing for potential unrest as the double homicide trial of Kyle Rittenhouse draws to a close.

Closing arguments are set to begin on 15 November, and a verdict could arrive next week.

“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,” the governor said in a statement on 12 November.

Kenosha, with a population of fewer than 200,000 people, is “strong, resilient, and has come together through incredibly difficult times,” he added. “That healing is still ongoing.”

He is urging people who are not from the area to “respect the community” and avoid travelling, and for potential protesters to “exercise their First Amendment rights ... safely and peacefully”.

Wisconsin adjunct general Major Gen Paul Knapp said the National Guard has assembled 500 service members “to keep the Kenosha community safe, should a request from our local partners come in”.

On Thursday, a statement on “verdict preparedness” from the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department said the agency and the Kenosha Police Department “have been and will continue to monitor” the trial.

“We recognize that some varying opinions and feelings revolve around the trial that may cause concerns. Both of our departments have dedicated staff working in conjunction with local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to ensure the safety of our communities.”

Mr Rittenhouse – who claimed he travelled to Kenosha to provide medical aid and defend businesses during unrest after the police shooting of Jacob Blake in August 2020 – killed two men, injured another and fired at another person with an AR-15-style rifle in the aftermath of protests.

He is charged with five felonies, including first-degree reckless homicide, first-degree intentional homicide and attempted first-degree intentional homicide, and two counts of recklessly endangering safety in the first degree. He also was charged with possession of a dangerous weapon under the age of 18, a misdemeanour. He has pleaded not guilty.

Legal experts have contended the case will come down to whether prosecutors effectively argued that Mr Rittenhouse’s intentional use of deadly force with an AR-15 at close range undermines his claims of self-defence.

Prosecutors also have sought lesser charges to be included, in the event that he is acquitted on other charges.

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