Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers called for peaceful demonstrations on Friday after a Kenosha jury acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse of all charges related to the fatal shootings of two people during last year’s riots in the city.
The verdict causes many people to prepare for protests on the heels of the heavily-laden trial.
“I reiterate the calls from local leaders in the Kenosha community and join them in asking anyone who chooses to come together and exercise their rights to the first amendment in any community to do so only safely and peacefully,” he said. . Evers in a statement after the verdict. .
President Biden said in a statement Friday that he spoke with Mr. Evers after the verdict to offer “support and any assistance needed to ensure public safety.” The president said “the White House and federal authorities” have been in contact with the governor to prepare for “any outcome” in the case.
Mr. Rittenhouse fatally shot two men and wounded a third while being chased by and hit by protesters in the middle of several nights of violent clashes that gripped the city in August 2020 after a white Kenosha police officer shot Jacob Blake, a black man.
The Democratic governor’s prayer comes amid fears of a repeat of the unrest.
Mr. Evers mobilized nearly 500 National Guard troops late last week in anticipation of the verdict. Troops remain on standby to assist local law enforcement if local officials request their assistance.
In his statement Friday, the governor said the national spotlight on Mr. Rittenhouse’s case has “undoubtedly reopened wounds that have not been completely healed” for the citizens of Kenosha.
He said the verdict did not change “our reality in Wisconsin, which we have work to do toward, accountability and justice,” but he urged the people of Kenosha to remain peaceful.
“We must have peace in Kenosha and our community, and any effort or action aimed at sowing that division is unwelcome in our state, as they will only prevent that healing,” said Mr. Evers.
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