Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) has called up 500 National Guard troops for active duty to aid hundreds of police officers if necessary to “ensure public safety” as the hot-button Kenosha trial of Kyle Rittenhouse nears its end, he said in a statement Friday.
Members of the Wisconsin National Guard will stage outside Kenosha on standby to respond if requested by local law enforcement agencies, according to the governor.
“We stand ready to support our communities during times of need,” said Maj. Gen. Paul Knapp, Wisconsin’s adjutant general.
Rittenhouse is standing trial for intentional homicide and related charges in the shooting deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, who were unarmed. He also injured a third man, Gaige Grosskreutz. His lawyers have claimed self-defense.
Rittenhouse, 17 at the time, was too young to legally be packing the AR-15-style rifle he had slung over his shoulder last year at an August protest against the police shooting of local Black resident Jacob Blake. He claimed he was there to protect a car dealership from protesters, but owners testified no one was asked to do so.
Closing arguments in the case will begin Monday, after which the case goes to the jury.
The governor said he and his office are in close communication with local law enforcement 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,” Evers noted.
“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.”