Wisconsin governor urges peace ‘regardless’ of Rittenhouse outcome as demonstrators gather at courthouse

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Demonstrators gather outside of the Kenosha County Courthouse on Nov. 16, 2021, amid jury deliberations in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

(NEXSTAR) – Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers urged “peace in Kenosha and across our state” ahead of a verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.

Kenoshans are strong, resilient, and have worked hard to heal and rebuild together over the past year,” wrote Evers on Facebook and Twitter. “Any efforts to sow division and hinder that healing are unwelcome in Kenosha and Wisconsin. Regardless of the outcome in this case, I urge peace in Kenosha and across our state.”

Evers went on to request that demonstrators do so “safely and peacefully.”

The governor’s remarks, shared just before noon on Tuesday, came shortly after the jury began deliberations in the Rittenhouse case.

Evers had earlier authorized the deployment of approximately 500 National Guard troops to Kenosha ahead of a verdict, where they would remain on standby until requested by local law enforcement agencies. If needed, the National Guard will be available to provide support to both law enforcement and first responders, and “protect critical infrastructure and cultural institutions necessary for the well-being of the community,” according to a Nov. 12 press release from the governor’s office.

Kenosha’s police and sheriff’s departments, too, said on Tuesday they were preparing to “ensure the safety” of the community.

“The Kenosha Police Department and the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department have been and will continue to monitor the Kyle Rittenhouse trial,” reads the statement, which was shared to Kenosha’s city website on Tuesday morning.

“We recognize that there are varying opinions and feelings that 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.”

Police in Kenosha have said there is “no reason to facilitate road closures, enact curfews or ask our communities to modify their daily routines” as the trial nears its end. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

In an update posted to Facebook on Tuesday afternoon, police said they “understand and recognize the anxiety” generated by the trial, but did not feel it was necessary to issue any further guidance for residents.

“To date, we have no reason to facilitate road closures, enact curfews or ask our communities to modify their daily routines,” police said.

A representative for the city further told Nexstar there were no plans to close city offices or shorten working hours for government employees as of 1 p.m. on Tuesday.

The city’s police, together with the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department, had said on Facebook that their departments have worked to “improve response capabilities” over the last year, and since the unrest in Kenosha following the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by a white police officer on Aug. 23, 2020.

During one of the police brutality demonstrations in Kenosha days later, Kyle Rittenhouse, then 17, killed two people and wounded another with an AR-style semiautomatic rifle. He has since claimed self-defense.

Demonstrators bring signs and set up cut-outs in front of the Kenosha County Court House on Nov. 16, 2021. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Rittenhouse, now 18, is facing multiple charges, including first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide and first-degree attempted intentional homicide, among others. The charge of first-degree intentional homicide carries a mandatory life sentence. The judge dismissed one charge, a count of possession of a dangerous weapon by a person younger than 18, on Monday.

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