Kyle Rittenhouse trial: Wisconsin National Guard to support Kenosha police

Roughly 500 Wisconsin Army National Guard troops are reporting for state active duty to support Kenosha law enforcement in ensuring public safety in relation to the Kyle Rittenhouse trial and verdict.

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Gov. Tony Evers authorized the move. He issued the following statement in a news release:

"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. 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."

As Mike Johnson closed up his barbershop Friday, he said there has been one main topic of conversation in his chair.

"A lot of crazy stuff going on these next few days," said Johnson, owner of Fade City Barbershop. "This Rittenhouse is all over. It’s nationwide right now. It’s all over the world."

Johnson's barbershop is one of the few businesses still open in uptown Kenosha. Two blocks away along 22nd Avenue, boards still line the street – the block burned during August 2020 unrest.

"I stood out here for five nights, with my family," Johnson said.

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Johnson told FOX6 News he is hopeful he won't need to protect his business next week; the jury in the trial is expected to start deliberating on Monday.

"I think they are probably a little more prepared for it this time. Before it just came out of nowhere – ‘boom’ – and things went left real quick. It went too far. This time I think they’re more prepared for it," said Johnson.

Johnson has no plans to board up his windows.

"I’m traumatized by it, yeah definitely, but I’m not as worried this time around," Johnson said.

Members of the Wisconsin National Guard will stage outside Kenosha in a standby status and will only respond if requested by local law enforcement agencies. They will support local law enforcement and first responders in Kenosha. 

Earlier this week, the Kenosha County Sheriff's Department said it is monitoring the case closely and working with other agencies.

The National Guard may not be used to impede the ability of people to peacefully protest or impede the ability of the media to report.