Wisconsin's Gov. Tony Evers has mobilized the National Guard ahead of a forthcoming verdict in the homicide trial of Kyle Rittenhouse.
"Approximately 500 Wisconsin Army National Guard troops are reporting for state active duty," Wisconsin National Guard officials wrote in a Friday statement.
The troops will be stationed outside Kenosha, where Rittenhouse is on trial for killing two people and injuring a third in August 2020, during protests that erupted following the officer-involved shooting of Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time, has said he went there to protect property after demonstrators set fires and looted businesses.
Anticipating a verdict as early as Monday, local authorities are on standby for protests in the wake of an acquittal or mistrial.
“We stand ready to support our communities during times of need,” said Maj. Gen. Paul Knapp, Wisconsin’s adjutant general. “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.”
The soldiers will support to law enforcement, and will protect infrastructure and "cultural institutions necessary for the well-being of the community," and to support first responders, the Wisconsin Guard noted.
"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 on this situation," the agency wrote in a statement.
Evers asked people from out of town to reconsider any plans to travel to Kenosha, and asked that any protests remain peaceful.
Defense attorneys for Rittenhouse requested a mistrial on Wednesday, following a series of controversial questions by the case's chief prosecutor, Thomas Binger.