MADISON, Wis. (WTVO) — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has authorized 500 active duty National Guard troops to assist law enforcement in Kenosha ahead of the verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.
“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,” said Gov. Evers. “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 to the area and encourage those who might choose to assemble and exercise their First Amendment rights to do so safely and peacefully.”
Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and wounding a third during a riot in Kenosha last year. The defense argues the then-17-year-old was acting in self defense.
The riots were part of a wave of violent protests which swept the nation in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis by former police officer Derek Chauvin.
In Kenosha, portions of the city were burned down by protesters and rioters followed the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Officer Rusten Sheskey shot Blake, who is Black, during a domestic disturbance in Kenosha in August 2020. The shooting left Blake paralyzed from the waist down.
State prosecutors decided not to file charges against Sheskey earlier this year after video showed that Blake, who was wanted on a felony warrant, was armed with a knife.
The U.S. Department of Justice launched its own investigation days after the shooting. The agency announced Friday that a team of prosecutors from its Civil Rights Division and the U.S. attorney’s office in Milwaukee reviewed police reports, witness statements, dispatch logs and videos of the incident, and determined there wasn’t enough evidence to prove Sheskey used excessive force or violated Blake’s federal rights.
Evers’ move anticipates a potential uprising from Black Lives Matter activists if Rittenhouse is acquitted by the jury.
“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.”