Wisconsin National Guardsmen on Standby as Jury to Deliberate Kyle Rittenhouse Verdict

As the case against Kyle Rittenhouse winds down, the Wisconsin National Guard has been activated, the Associated Press reported.

Governor Tony Evers said that National Guard members could be deployed to Kenosha if the local law enforcement requests them. The troops are on standby as the jury begins to hear closing arguments. Newsweek previously received a statement from the governor's office saying that the troops are meant to "support local partners in ensuring public safety in conjunction with hundreds of officers from volunteering law enforcement agencies."

The Wisconsin National Guard told Newsweek that they do not disclose potential plans or procedures of mobilization to the media to protect its members.

"We stand ready to support our communities during times of need," a news release from Major General Paul Knapp stated. "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 possible deployment of the Wisconsin National Guard comes as the prosecution and defense rest their cases. Rittenhouse is charged with five felonies, including reckless and intentional homicide. The Illinois man is accused of killing Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber during protests against the Kenosha police after officers shot and paralyzed Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse is also charged with injuring Gaige Grosskreutz.

The defense claims that he traveled from Antioch, Illinois, to Kenosha to provide medical assistance. However, the prosecution argues that his reluctance to provide medical aid at the scene after shooting Rosenbaum showed other intentions.

The jury is expected to begin deliberations today.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Rittenhouse Video
Judge Bruce Schroeder is seated in front of a large video monitor as Kyle Rittenhouse and attorneys for both sides argue about a video in Kenosha Circuit Court on November 12, 2021, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Rittenhouse is accused of shooting three demonstrators, killing two of them, during a night of unrest that erupted in Kenosha after a police officer shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back while being arrested in August of 2020. Photo by Mark Hertzberg-Pool/Getty Images

Public interest in closing arguments was evident Monday morning, when more people than usual stood in a line outside Courtroom 209 to get a seat. The first one in line was a man in a red hat and red coat bedecked with silver glitter. Outside, someone erected a cutout of Rittenhouse, and a man stood on a corner waving an upside-down American flag.

Bystander video captured the critical minutes when Rittenhouse, with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle, shot and killed Rosenbaum and Huber, and wounded Grosskreutz.

Rittenhouse is white, as are the three men he shot. The case raised questions about racial justice, vigilantism, the Second Amendment right to bear arms, and white privilege that polarized people far beyond Kenosha.

Rittenhouse has argued self-defense in the shootings, leaving prosecutors with the burden of proving that his fear for his safety and his use of deadly force were unreasonable. Some legal experts watching the trial said the prosecution struggled to do so.

Perhaps in recognition of that, prosecutors asked Judge Bruce Schroeder to let the jury consider several lesser charges if they acquit him on the original counts. Schroeder indicated on Friday that he would allow some of what prosecutors sought when he gave the jury instructions on Monday.

Prosecutors also highlighted Rittenhouse's youth and inexperience, noting to jurors that of all the people armed in Kenosha that night, only Rittenhouse shot people.

But some of the prosecution's own witnesses seemed to strengthen Rittenhouse's self-defense claims.

Videographer Richie McGinniss testified that Rosenbaum chased Rittenhouse and lunged for his rifle right before Rittenhouse shot him. Ryan Balch, a military veteran in Rittenhouse's group that night, testified that Rosenbaum threatened to kill Rittenhouse and others if he got them alone.

Grosskreutz, the only man shot who survived, acknowledged that he had a gun in his hand as he approached Rittenhouse and that it was pointed at him.

Among the trial's most compelling moments was Rittenhouse's own testimony. In some six hours on the stand—most of it poised and matter-of-fact—he said he was afraid Rosenbaum would take away his gun and shoot him and others. He said he never wanted to kill anyone.

"I didn't do anything wrong. I defended myself," Rittenhouse said.

After closing arguments, names were to be drawn to determine which 12 of the 18 jurors who heard testimony will deliberate, with the rest dismissed as alternates.

Judge Phone Call
Kyle Rittenhouse and defense attorney Mark Richards stand as Judge Bruce Schroeder makes a call during Rittenhouse's trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on November 12, 2021. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and wounding a third during a protest over police brutality in Kenosha last year. Mark Hertzberg /Pool Photo via AP