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Governor calls for peace as protesters gather ahead of Kyle Rittenhouse verdict

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(KENOSHA COUNTY, Wis.) — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers made a plea for peace as protesters gathered outside the Kenosha County Courthouse while awaiting a verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse homicide trial.

After hearing two weeks of testimony and closing arguments, the Kenosha County Circuit Court jury started deliberating Tuesday in the closely watched trial.

Amid the wait for a verdict, Evers called for people to assemble “safely and peacefully” in Kenosha.

“Kenoshans are strong, resilient, and have worked hard to heal and rebuild together over the past year,” he tweeted Tuesday. “Any efforts to sow division and hinder that healing are unwelcome in Kenosha and Wisconsin. Regardless of the outcome in this case, I urge peace in Kenosha and across our state.”

Ahead of the verdict, Evers had previously authorized about 500 National Guard troops to be on standby to support public safety efforts if needed.

Local authorities said they “recognize the anxiety” surrounding the trial, but are not issuing a curfew or road closures at this time.

“Our departments have worked together and made coordinated efforts over the last year to improve response capabilities to large scale events. We have also strengthened our existing relationships with State and Federal resources,” the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department and Kenosha Police Department said in a joint statement Tuesday. “At this time, we have no reason to facilitate road closures, enact curfews or ask our communities to modify their daily routines.”

Rittenhouse has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree reckless homicide, first-degree intentional homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide and two felony counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety.

The charges stem from the fatal shootings of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and a shooting that left 27-year-old Gaige Grosskreutz wounded during riots that erupted in Kenosha last year over the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

Those gathering outside the courthouse have included members of Blake’s family and Black Lives Matter activists, calling for justice for the three men shot, as well as Rittenhouse supporters — among them Mark and Patricia McCloskey, a St. Louis couple who pointed guns at Black Lives Matter protesters outside their home last year.

ABC News’ Bill Hutchinson and Whitney Lloyd contributed to this report.

 

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