Kenosha, WI, protests over shooting trial possible as Kyle Rittenhouse jury deliberates

KENOSHA, Wis. (WLS) -- The possibility of a shooting trial verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse case Tuesday brought more protesters for both sides to the courthouse, and had officials bracing for possible unrest.

In the morning a small group of people from both sides voiced opinions on the case outside the courthouse as they waited for the jury's decision.

READ MORE | Kyle Rittenhouse shooting trial wraps up as jury starts deliberating

In the afternoon, a scuffle between protesters briefly spilled onto the street as tensions between Rittenhouse's supporters and detractors continued to grow. The protesters, who number between 30 and 40, have largely remained peaceful but as jury deliberations have continued and more people have come in, there is an increased security presence in and around the courthouse to deal with the occasional outburst.

The Kenosha Sheriff's Department said it understands and recognizes "the anxiety surrounding the Kyle Rittenhouse trial" and has made coordinated efforts over the last year to "improve response capabilities to large scale events."

MORE: Jacob Blake, Kyle Rittenhouse shootings timeline

No road closures or curfews were put in place Tuesday, but with a verdict near, Gov. Tony Evers said that 500 National Guard members would be prepared for duty in Kenosha if requested by local law enforcement.

"Kenoshans are strong, resilient, and have worked hard to heal and rebuild together over the past year," Gov. Evers tweeted Tuesday. "Any efforts to sow division and hinder that healing are unwelcome in Kenosha and Wisconsin."

Elsewhere in the city, it's business as usual. Signs of last year's civil unrest are still visible everywhere in some neighborhoods where businesses remain closed. But those that are open are fully open, and expect to stay that way.

The Kenosha police and sheriff's departments issued identical statement supporting that confidence, saying, "To date, we have no reason to facilitate road closures, enact curfews or ask our communities to modify their daily routines."

Police also said coordinated efforts have been made over the last year to improve their ability to respond to large scale events. Gov. Evers called for protesters to exercise their first amendment rights, but to do so peacefully whichever way the verdict may go.
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