KENOSHA COUNTY, Wis. — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers announced Friday that approximately 500 Wisconsin Army National Guard troops have been authorized to support authorities in Kenosha following the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse.
Members of the National Guard will stage outside Kenosha in a standby status to respond if requested by local law enforcement agencies, officials say. The Rittenhouse trial has entered its final stages.
“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 there and encourage those who might choose to assemble and exercise their First Amendment rights to do so safely and peacefully.”
Maj. Gen. Paul Knapp, Wisconsin's adjutant general, said the National Guard is ready to support communities during times of need.
“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," Knapp said.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys for Rittenhouse returned to the courthouse without the jury present on Friday to finalize how jurors will be instructed when they get the case next week and begin deliberating. Jury instructions will be worked out on Friday, and closing arguments are expected on Monday.
This isn't the first time the Wisconsin National Guard was deployed to Kenosha.
About 125 guards initially deployed to the city to assist local law enforcement in keeping the peace on Aug. 24. 2020 following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Gov. Tony Evers later raised that number to 500 two days later, after looting and vandalism broke out, leaving businesses and other property destroyed.
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As tensions continued to flare over Blake's shooting and police brutality, Evers called on other states for help, using the Emergency Management Assistance Compact. That call led to over 700 guards from Michigan, Arizona, and Alabama to be deployed to Kenosha. Evers meanwhile raised the total number of Wisconsin National Guard's members in Kenosha to over 1,200.
Out-of-state guards began returning home on Sept. 2 as tensions began to cool. Hundreds of Wisconsin guards remained at their posts until Sept. 7, after local leaders requested they stay five days longer.