As the contentious homicide trial of Kyle Rittenhouse is set to conclude early next week, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers is preparing for backlash based on the jury’s verdict. Since the closing arguments are expected to be delivered on Monday (Nov. 15), NBC News reports Gov. Evers has placed 500 National Guard members on standby.
“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 said. “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.”
“We stand ready to support our communities during times of need,” Maj. Gen. Paul Knapp, Wisconsin’s adjutant general added. “In close coordination with the governor, we have assembled approximately 500 Soldiers to help keep the Kenosha community safe, should a request from our local partners come in.”
The statement also mentions that Guard members “may only be used to provide support to local law enforcement and to protect critical infrastructure and cultural institutions necessary for the well-being of the community.” They will also be onsite to provide support to first responders, such as the Kenosha Fire Department. “The National Guard may not be used to impede the ability of people to peacefully protest or impede the ability of the media to report,” the statement reads.
Rittenhouse shot and killed 26-year-old Anthony Huber and 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum and wounded 27-year-old Gaige Grosskreutz during protests in Kenosha after the police shooting of Jacob Blake last year.
He is charged with intentional homicide, attempted intentional homicide, reckless homicide, possession of a dangerous weapon by a minor, among other charges. Rittenhouse, who was 17 years old at the time of the shootings, faces life in prison if he’s convicted of the first-degree intentional homicide charge and up to 60 years behind bars for the attempted intentional homicide and reckless homicide charges.