Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has authorized the deployment of at least 500 National Guard troops to Kenosha to support law enforcement efforts related to the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse days ahead of the anticipated verdict.
In an official press release, the governor issued the following statement on Kenosha:
“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 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 National Guard troops will stage outside Kenosha on standby and will respond if local law enforcement agencies request additional support.
Under Wisconsin state law, members of the National Guard called to active duty “may only be used to provide support to local law enforcement and to protect critical infrastructure and cultural institutions” that are needed for the community’s well-being. National Guard may also be used to support first responders, like the Kenosha Fire Department.
The release specifically noted that troops “may not be used to impede the ability of people to peacefully protest” or prevent the media from reporting.
“We stand ready to support our communities during times of need,” said Maj. Gen. Paul Knapp, Wisconsin’s adjutant general. “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.”
On Wednesday, Rittenhouse broke down in tears during his trial after taking the witness stand to describe the events of August 25, 2020, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where the then 17-year-old shot multiple rioters, killing two. Rittenhouse maintains that he was acting in self-defense.
On Friday, the defendant’s attorney revealed that Rittenhouse is seeing a therapist for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) brought on by the violent events in Kenosha last year.
Rittenhouse faces one misdemeanor and five felonies, including first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, attempted first-degree intentional homicide, and possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18. He was jailed for two months in fall 2020 before posting $2 million bail thanks to a crowdfunding effort.