Kenosha braces for possible unrest after Rittenhouse verdict

KENOSHA, Wis. — In the heart of downtown, small-business owners were prepared for the worst, fearing protesters, crime and vandalism may return regardless of the outcome in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.

On Monday, November 15, closing arguments got underway in the highly-publicized case, which centers on Rittenhouse's actions on August 25 last year.

Following the police shooting of Black Kenosha resident Jacob Blake, demonstrators took to the streets of the city. Per The Independent, a then-17-year-old Rittenhouse armed himself with a semi-automatic AR-15-style assault rifle and took to the streets.

He later told Daily Caller that he armed himself in an effort to "protect businesses" and "help people".

Credit: ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy
As the protests grew more chaotic, the teenager became involved in confrontations with protesters, and Rittenhouse was recorded fatally shooting activists Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and wounding paramedic Gaige Grosskreutz.

Rittenhouse is now facing five charges, which are: First-degree reckless homicide, first-degree recklessly endangering safety, first-degree intentional homicide, attempted first degree intentional homicide, and first-degree recklessly endangering safety.

Per Sky News, Rittenhouse was facing a sixth charge - carrying a firearm illegally as a person under 18 - but this has been dismissed by a judge, who stated that the law on possession was unclear.

Now, business owners in Kenosha are preparing for potential unrest once again in the city.

A vandalized jewelry store in downtown Kenosha, Wisconsin - Monday, August 24, 2020. Credit: ZUMA Press Inc / Alamy
Speaking to NBC News, floral shop owner Lyna Postuchow said: "No matter which way the verdict goes, somebody is going to be upset."

"You always have to be ready because you don’t know what’s going to happen, but we hope cooler minds prevail," she added.

Last year, Postuchow's business endured $10,000 in damages.

Additionally, Gus Harris, who is the owner of Flex & Burn Fitness Center, has once again decided to board up the windows of his establishment, telling NBC News that he is "concerned".

NBC News reports that a number of businesses on 6th Avenue between 56th and 57th streets that were targeted by demonstrators last year were either closed or unoccupied yesterday.

Watching the Rittenhouse trial closely is Mike Lampos, the owner of the downtown bar Fec’s Place, who told NBC that he has his boards ready and "could board up in an hour" if needed.

Yesterday, we reported that the governor of Wisconsin has put 500 National Guard members on standby as Kyle Rittenhouse's murder trial comes to a close.

Governor Tony Evers said in a statement on Friday, November 12: "I urge folks who are otherwise not from the area to please respect the community by reconsidering any plans to travel there and encourage those who might choose to assemble and exercise their First Amendment rights to do so safely and peacefully."

Featured image credit: ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy

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