Wisconsin National Guard put on alert ahead of Rittenhouse verdict

Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, Pool

We still don’t know when the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse will be over and a verdict by the jury rendered. Debates over the instructions to be given to the jury began on Friday and closing arguments are expected to take place on Monday. After that, the names of 12 of the 18 jurors will be drawn at random to determine who will deliberate the case, with the rest being dismissed as alternates. How long they will debate the eventual verdict is anyone’s guess.

The city of Kenosha is on edge, however. If Rittenhouse is acquitted on all charges, or even just the most serious ones, there may well be riots once again destroying the streets of the city. With that in mind, Governor Tony Evers has activated as many as 500 Wisconsin National Guard troops and deployed them to the outskirts of the city. Given the history of the “peaceful protests” we’ve seen across the country for the past couple of years, that’s probably a fairly prudent move. (NY Post)

Hundreds of Wisconsin National Guard troops have been activated ahead of an expected verdict in Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial next week, Gov. Tony Evers announced on Friday.

About 500 troops will be on hand outside of Kenosha and will respond “if requested by local law enforcement,” in the event of civil unrest following the jury’s decision, Evers said.

The guardsmen will be operating “in conjunction with hundreds of officers from volunteering law enforcement agencies,” the governor’s office said.

“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,” Evers said in a statement.

The fact that the Governor is deploying the National Guard really isn’t the remarkable part of this story. It’s an unfortunate reality that’s driving the decision and to not do so at this juncture would be irresponsible. I’ll also give Tony Evers credit for employing a more measured approach. Having the Guard remain on the outskirts of the city where they can be prepared to deploy wherever they may wind up being needed on short notice is a smart move. Stationing them as a barricade around the courthouse would send the wrong message and almost certainly make them targets of attacks if violence breaks out.

But will things turn violent in the streets? As we’ve seen with previous cases such as the trials of police officers accused of excessive force, that depends entirely on the outcome. I’m sure there will be a lot of people out there who will be disappointed if Rittenhouse is convicted of first-degree intentional homicide (the equivalent of first-degree murder in that state) but those aren’t the type of people who are liable to riot. The problem will come if Rittenhouse is acquitted. Then you will probably see the woke mobs looking to burn things down and attack law enforcement while the press describes the events as “fiery but mostly peaceful protests.”

While this could still go either way, I would say the odds of that happening are certainly well above zero. The prosecution appears to have done their level best to sabotage their own case over the course of these proceedings, assuming they ever had much of a case to begin with. One of the most memorable moments of the trial came when one of the prosecutors literally did a face-palm while sitting at their table after the defense underscored a particularly damning point. Kyle Rittenhouse was obviously guilty of at least one count of illegally possessing a firearm when he was not of legal age to do so. Whether they can manage to convict him of anything else is far from a slam dunk.

That brings us back to the point I alluded to above. What’s really dismal about the situation we’re currently facing is that the entire Rittenhouse affair began because people were rioting on a regular basis, attacking police officers and causing massive amounts of property damage. The government did very little to stop these riots and the press was actually cheering the rioters on in many cases. If some semblance of order had been maintained, people wouldn’t have felt compelled to travel to the sites of the riots and help protect innocent bystanders and prevent property damage. Is it any wonder that things spiraled so completely out of control eventually?

This entire process began with a riot. Now we’re waiting to find out if it’s going to end with one. And if it does, the Wisconsin National Guard will be on the firing line. Here’s to hoping it doesn’t come down to that.