(WFRV) — Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has authorized approximately 500 Wisconsin Army National Guard troops to report to Kenosha ahead of a verdict in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse.
The troops will report for State Active Duty as a way to ensure public safety along with local law enforcement, the governor’s office said in a press release issued Friday.
The release did not reference the Rittenhouse trial, aside from Gov. Ever’s acknowledgment that people might be assembling to “exercise their First Amendment rights” in the coming days.
The trial’s closing arguments are expected Monday.
“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,” said Gov. Evers in the release. “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.”
Government officials say members of the Wisconsin National Guard will stay outside Kenosha on standby to respond quickly if requested by local law enforcement agencies. However, the release says troops called to active duty can only provide support to local law enforcement and protect critical infrastructure and cultural institutions necessary for the well-being of the community, and provide support to first responders such as the Kenosha Fire Department.
Kenosha will also have hundreds of other officers from volunteering law enforcement agencies, alongside the Wisconsin Army National Guard, according to the governor’s office.
Rittenhouse, from Antioch, Illinois, killed two people and wounded another on Aug. 25, 2020, after bringing an AR-style semiautomatic rifle to a police brutality protest in Kenosha. Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time, has since claimed self-defense.
Rittenhouse, now 18, faces 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.