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Gov. Evers joins Kenosha church service to 'heal' following Rittenhouse verdict

Posted at 9:28 PM, Nov 21, 2021

Kenosha is now attempting to heal following the conclusion of the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse.

At Grace Lutheran, an integrated church, just being together in worship and prayer is part of the healing process after the trial divided people along lines of politics and race.

"We are truly a broken people," said Rev. Jonathan Barker at Grace Lutheran Church on Sunday.

A jury acquitted Rittenhouse of all charges on Friday. He shot and killed two men and injured a third during protests in Kenosha last August following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse claimed self-defense.

At Grace Lutheran's Sunday service, Governor Tony Evers sat near the front of the nave.

"I wanted to be able to heal with the Kenosha community. The impact of the last couple of days has been extraordinarily difficult on everybody," Evers told TMJ4 News in an exclusive interview after the service.

Following the verdict on Friday, Gov. Evers released a statement:

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Evers put 500 national guard troops on standby ahead of the Rittenhouse verdict. They weren't needed as there was no unrest following the jury's decision.

The governor has been criticized for not reacting more quickly in August 2020 when peaceful protests devolved into riots following Blake's shooting.

Evers, however, activated the guard on August 24, 2020, and troops arrived in Kenosha that day, a day before the Rittenhouse shootings and a day after protests began on the 23rd.

Whether it's the events of last year — buildings burned not far from Grace Lutheran — or the weeks-long trial, church goers say the healing will take a while, but their door is open.

"It's specifically what the community needs. And whether that's a loaf of bread or someone to talk to, everybody has a place here," said Ian Clyne, a member of Grace Lutheran.

After the service, Gov. Evers took time to speak with members of the church about the healing process.

"Basically, it was very consoling to see Gov. Evers here to help with the healing. I'm just so glad there wasn't anything [further violence] that happened so far, with the results [of the trial]," said Dennis Eirlich, another member of Grace.

"We're together on that. I was healing. they were healing," said Evers.

The people are Grace Lutheran are healing from the past and hoping for the future. The trial is over, but division runs deep in the community over the outcome.

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