Black Lives Matter protesters demonstrating on the steps of Kenosha’s courthouse threatened on Tuesday to ‘shut down’ the city if Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted, as the National Guard were put on standby to deal with any potential unrest.
An activist with a megaphone, wearing a BLM hoodie, urged on his fellow protesters, chanting: ‘If Kenosha don’t get it, shut it down’.
He then began chanting: ‘Seven shots in the back’ – a reference to Jacob Blake, a black man who was shot seven times by a white officer in Kenosha on August 23, 2020.
Blake’s shooting sparked the Kenosha riots, during which Rittenhouse on August 25, 2020 shot and killed two white BLM demonstrators and injured a third.
The jury in Rittenhouse’s case began their deliberations on Tuesday after an intense two-week trial.
Rittenhouse is charged with first-degree intentional homicide and other counts for killing Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz.
Ahead of the verdict, the governor of Wisconsin, Tony Evers, ordered 500 members of the National Guard to be put on standby, 60 miles away, in case of unrest.
Many expect there to be fury from the ‘losing’ side of the argument, regardless of whether the 18-year-old is convicted or acquitted.
Police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, stand guard outside the courthouse on Tuesday as protesters gathered
Demonstrators calling for both Rittenhouse’s acquittal and conviction gathered on Tuesday outside the courthouse in Kenosha
Waving the black, red and green flag of Black Lives Matter, demonstrators gathered on Tuesday outside the Kenosha courthouse
A row of police are seen outside the courthouse in Kenosha, as protesters – largely peacefully – shouted their views
A man who claimed to be hired security for a television station is seen standing by a news vehicle outside the Kenosha County Courthouse during the Rittenhouse trial
Supporters of Kyle Rittenhouse stand in front of the Kenosha County Courthouse while the jury deliberates the Rittenhouse trial on November 16, 2021 in Kenosha, Wisconsin
Demonstrators protest outside the Kenosha County Courthouse, as the jury deliberates. One holds a sign that reads: Konvict Killer Kyle
Protesters hold signs outside the Kenosha County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021 in Kenosha, Wis., during the Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and wounding a third during a protest over police brutality in Kenosha, last year
One demonstrator appears in support of Rittenhouse, holding an American flag and holding a sign that reads ‘Self-defense is not a crime’
Members of the Wisconsin National Guard are seen on Monday, 60 miles from Kenosha, on standby
Authorities in Kenosha insist that they are prepared for every eventuality
A boarded-up business is seen with a sign paying tribute to Jacob Blake, who was shot in the back by a police officer but survived. His shooting sparked the riots
Downtown Kenosha displayed messages in support of Jacob Blake on Monday
The city of Kenosha was boarded up on Monday, as the city braced for protests following the verdict
‘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 stated.
‘The Kenosha community has been strong, resilient, and has come together through incredibly difficult times these past two years, and that healing is still ongoing,’ Evers said.
‘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.’
Kenosha Police Department and the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department said they are monitoring the trial and are working with local and federal authorities to ensure the ‘safety of our communities.’
‘We recognize that there are varying opinions and feelings that revolve around the trial that may cause concerns,’ the two agencies said.
Rittenhouse fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum (left), 36, with an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle after Rosenbaum chased Rittenhouse across a parking lot and threw a plastic bag at him shortly before midnight on August 25, 2020. Moments later, as Rittenhouse was running down a street, he shot and killed Anthony Huber (right), 26, a protester from Silver Lake, Wisconsin
On Monday and Tuesday the courthouse saw demonstrators calling for Rittenhouse’s conviction, and supporters demanding his acquittal.
Protesters carried signs that read, ‘Know justice know peace,’ ‘Self-defense is not a crime,’ and ‘Racism kills.’
Their chants could be heard inside the courthouse.
Among them were Mark and Patricia McCloskey – the Missouri couple who hit the headlines when they stood outside their St Louis mansion armed with guns as Black Lives Matter protesters passed last summer.
Mark McCloskey is now running for the U.S. Senate, hoping to represent Missouri.
‘We feel for Mr. Rittenhouse,’ Mark McCloskey told Fox News on Monday. ‘We feel he acted in self-defense.
‘We think he’s been politically prosecuted, as were we, and we’re hoping that the jury find him not guilty on all counts and that he can go home a free man.
‘Rittenhouse is a young man.
‘He was doing the best he could to help his country and to save businesses up here in Kenosha, and as his reward, he’s having the rest of his life threatened.’
The McCloskeys were outside the courthouse again on Tuesday.
Residents of Kenosha were braced for unrest.
‘No matter which way the verdict goes, somebody is going to be upset,’ said Lyna Postuchow, owner of A Summer’s Garden, a floral shop.
She told NBC News: ‘You always have to be ready because you don’t know what’s going to happen, but we hope cooler minds prevail.’
The McCloskeys show their support: Gun-toting couple arrive outside Kenosha courthouse to back Rittenhouse who they claim has been ‘politically prosecuted’
Mark McCloskey, a 64-year-old personal injury lawyer, and his wife Patricia were among the Rittenhouse supporters outside court on Monday.
The pair made national headlines when, on June 28, 2020, they brandished their guns at Black Lives Matter protesters walking past their St Louis house.
In June they each pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge – her for harassment, him for fourth-degree assault – and agreed to pay a total of nearly $3,000 in fines. The couple, both lawyers, also agreed to give up the guns they had brandished in the confrontation.
A little over a month later, they were pardoned by the Republican governor, Mike Parson.
Patricia and Mark Thomas McCloskey in front of the Kenosha County Courthouse on the day of closing arguments in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial
Mark McCloskey, a 64-year-old personal injury lawyer, and his wife Patricia were among the Rittenhouse supporters outside court on Monday
The pair made national headlines when, on June 28, 2020, they brandished their guns at Black Lives Matter protesters walking past their St Louis house
Mark McCloskey is currently running for a U.S. Senate seat, representing Missouri.
On Monday they were in Kenosha to show their support for Rittenhouse.
‘We feel for Mr. Rittenhouse,’ Mark McCloskey told Fox News.
‘We feel he acted in self-defense. We think he’s been politically prosecuted, as were we, and we’re hoping that the jury find him not guilty on all counts and that he can go home a free man,’ he added.
Last summer saw her shop smashed during the violent unrest following Blake’s shooting, and $10,000 worth of damage was done.
‘Nobody wants a repeat of last summer. Those were not Kenosha people. That’s not who caused us damage,’ Postuchow said.
Gus Harris, owner of Flex & Burn Fitness Center, said he plans to board up his gym like he did in the summer of 2020.
‘Obviously, we’re concerned. Definitely,’ he told NBC.
Some were waiting to see which way the jury went, and how the crowd reacted, before deciding whether to board up their stores.
Mike Lampos, owner of the downtown bar Fec’s Place, said: ‘Our city is on the line. Either way, you’re going to have people who are unhappy. Only half will be happy about the outcome. The other half are the people who are coming,’ to possibly damage businesses, he said.
‘I wouldn’t say I’m not concerned, but I’m not as worried as I was. I’m not boarding up,’ he continued. ‘Well, if this were to turn into something we had last year and buildings are burning, I’ve got my boards ready. I could board up in an hour.’
Anne Benson, owner of Oliver’s Bakery, agreed.
‘Do I have my boards? Yes, I do.
‘Do I want to put them up? No, I don’t,’ she said, speaking to NBC affiliate TJM4.
‘I’m not sure what’s going to happen. All I’m going to do is stay positive.’
John Fox, a 61-year-old Kenosha resident who lived near the scene of the 2020 protests and previously represented the business district as an alderman, said he was deeply worried.
A shopping mall in Downtown Kenosha is seen boarded up, with a Banksy-style design on the board
Kenosha was quiet on Sunday, ahead of the week when deliberations would begin. Mike Lampos, who own’s Fec’s Place (pictured) said he was not intending on boarding up his business but was ready in case it was necessary
Buildings are seen boarded up around the courthouse on Monday, ahead of potential unrest
Signs on a business beg potential rioters not to set fire to the building
‘I am feeling, oh gosh, I am feeling hopeful that nothing gets out of hand no matter how the verdict comes in,’ Fox, who has since retired, told The Daily Beast.
He said last year’s unrest was ‘three days of destruction and death.’
He added: ‘I just hope that people remain calm and don’t do any damage and don’t hurt each other.’
The tense wait in Kenosha came as an attorney who initially represented Rittenhouse before they acrimoniously parted ways said that the teenager was always going to be acquitted, describing the case as politically-motivated ‘malicious prosecution’.
John Pierce, a high-profile former tank platoon commander who has made a name for himself representing multiple pro-Trump defendants – including 17 of the Capitol rioters – said that the trial was a sham.
Pierce, 49, told Fox News on Tuesday: ‘This case should have never been brought.
‘In my view, this is blatant prosecutorial misconduct. It’s malicious prosecution.’
Pierce, who runs how own Los Angeles-based firm, was hired by Rittenhouse shortly after the August 25, 2020 shooting.
John Pierce is pictured with Kyle Rittenhouse, his mother Wendy and sister Faith. Pierce represented Rittenhouse from August 2020 for just over three months
Kyle Rittenhouse, now 18, is seen in the courtroom during his two-week trial
Thomas Binger, prosecuting, shocked many in the court by brandishing Rittenhouse’s gun during closing arguments on Friday
On August 30, 2020, Pierce told Breitbart that the case was without merit.
‘We’re going to trial,’ said Pierce.
‘We’re going to win this case. If I’m the prosecutor, I drop these charges immediately.
‘I think that this is a rush of judgment, and if I was the prosecutor, I would be terrified to take this case to trial.
‘I do not believe that there’s a jury in this country that’s going to look at these facts and is going to find him guilty for murder.’
Pierce said at the time that Rittenhouse’s case was ‘absolute 100 percent self-defense, and we’re going to prove it if we have to.’
He added: ‘It was legal for him to possess that weapon in Wisconsin.’
Six of the 18 jurors who have heard the case were selected as alternates Tuesday morning and must remain in the courthouse while the remaining 12 deliberate in case they should be re-called
Defense attorney Mark Richards is pictured on Monday, during closing arguments
On Tuesday, Pierce said that he was confident his prediction over a year ago would stand.
‘In a radio interview that I did on Breitbart just a few days after the shootings, I said that that charge should not have been brought, and that it was going to go away at some point,’ he said.
On Monday, Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed the sixth charge, of unlawful possession of a firearm, as Pierce predicted.
‘He was legally entitled to have that firearm with him,’ he said.
Judge Bruce Schroeder on Monday ruled that it was legal for Rittenhouse to carry the weapon. He threw out the charge, saying the wording of the law is ambiguous and confusing for even the most seasoned professionals like him, let alone for ordinary citizens
‘And it’s just clear as day from the evidence, most powerfully from the hundreds of angles of video evidence, that it was absolute perfect self-defense.’
Pierce and Rittenhouse parted ways in December 2020, after questions were raised about his financial arrangements.
Wendy Rittenhouse, Kyle’s mother, told The New Yorker she had concerns about the #FightBack Foundation, the group founded by Pierce.
‘Kyle was John’s ticket out of debt,’ Wendy said of Pierce.
Wendy said she asked Pierce to return $40,000 in donated living expenses that she believed belonged to the family, a request she told the New Yorker he had refused.
‘He said we owed him millions – he ‘freed Kyle,” she told the outlet.
The Rittenhouse family said they grew uncomfortable with Pierce, telling the New Yorker that he drank excessively in front of Wendy’s kids, called Kyle’s sister a ‘raging liberal,’ and charged the family for time spent shopping for a shirt to wear on Tucker Carlson’s show.
Pierce is seen on Tucker Carlson’s show in the fall of 2020, when he was representing Rittenhouse
In March, Wendy told the Law & Crime podcast: ‘They used Kyle to gain money, gain Twitter followers.
‘I felt now they didn’t care about Kyle.’
Pierce now runs a private law firm and has founded the National Constitutional Law Union, or NCLU — which he describes as ‘the ACLU but for the rest of us.’
Protesters made their feelings known on Tuesday outside the courthouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin
He has vehemently denied misappropriating any funds donated to Rittenhouse’s cause.
Pierce on Tuesday said he was confident Rittenhouse would be acquitted, despite the fact that he ‘was defamed by pretty much every media outlet and lots of politicians and celebrities as being mass murderer and a white supremacist, which is ridiculous.’
Pierce added: ‘The justice system, in many instances, is being weaponized for political purposes.
‘I think that’s one of the impacts that folks like George Soros have had in attempting to and being successful in installing many prosecutors throughout the country.’
Pierce praised Judge Schroeder, saying that he had impressed him with his no-nonsense manner.
Schroeder, 75, has frequently berated the prosecution and prevented them from bringing before the court detail they deemed relevant, such as Rittenhouse saying days before the shooting that he wanted to fire his gun at people.
‘This judge is just unbelievably good,’ Pierce said.
‘He’s just no bulls***, and he just goes by the law and, he is not going to be swayed one iota by anything happening outside the courtroom.’
On Tuesday the 12-person jury spent their first day deliberating the five charges.
If Rittenhouse is convicted, he faces the rest of his life behind bars. Many believe he will be acquitted, and the prosecution have even tried to lobby for watered-down convictions, in what is seen as a desperate bid to secure any type of conviction.
Wendy Rittenhouse this week also praised the judge, and said she was hopeful her son would be freed.
What charges does Kyle Rittenhouse face?
Kyle Rittenhouse shot three men, killing two of them and wounding the third, during a protest against police brutality in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year. Rittenhouse has argued that he fired in self-defense after the men attacked him.
Here’s a look at the charges that prosecutors carried into court, as well as lesser charges that the judge could put before the jury in final instructions:
COUNT 1: FIRST-DEGREE RECKLESS HOMICIDE, USE OF A DANGEROUS WEAPON
This felony charge is connected to the death of Joseph Rosenbaum, the first man Rittenhouse shot. Bystander video shows Rosenbaum chasing Rittenhouse through a parking lot and throwing a plastic bag at him. Rittenhouse flees behind a car and Rosenbaum follows. Video introduced at trial showed Rittenhouse wheeling around and firing as Rosenbaum chased him. Richie McGinniss, a reporter who was trailing Rittenhouse, testified that Rosenbaum lunged for Rittenhouse’s gun.
Reckless homicide differs from intentional homicide in that prosecutors aren’t alleging Rittenhouse intended to murder Rosenbaum. Instead, they’re alleging Rittenhouse caused Rosenbaum’s death in circumstances showing an utter disregard for human life.
Former Waukesha County District Attorney Paul Bucher said prosecutors’ decision to charge reckless instead of intentional homicide shows they don’t know what happened between Rittenhouse and Rosenbaum and what might have been going through Rittenhouse’s mind when he pulled the trigger.
The charge is punishable by up to 60 years in prison. The dangerous weapon modifier carries an additional five years.
Prosecutors asked Judge Bruce Schroeder to let the jury also consider a lesser charge, second-degree reckless homicide, that does not require a finding that Rittenhouse acted with utter disregard for human life. It’s punishable by up to 25 years in prison. But after Rittenhouse’s attorneys objected, Schroeder said he did not plan to give that instruction. He said he expected that a guilty verdict on that count would be overturned because the defense objected to adding it.
COUNT 2: FIRST-DEGREE RECKLESSLY ENDANGERING SAFETY, USE OF A DANGEROUS WEAPON
This felony charge is connected to the Rosenbaum shooting. McGinniss told investigators he was in the line of fire when Rittenhouse shot Rosenbaum. The charge is punishable by 12 1/2 years in prison. The weapons modifier carries an additional five years.
Prosecutors asked Schroeder to let the jury consider a second-degree version of this charge. The difference is that the second-degree version doesn’t require a finding that Rittenhouse acted with utter disregard for human life. Schroeder said he was inclined to allow that instruction, though he didn’t make a final ruling. The charge is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
COUNT 3: FIRST-DEGREE RECKLESSLY ENDANGERING SAFETY, USE OF A DANGEROUS WEAPON
Video shows an unknown man leaping at Rittenhouse and trying to kick him seconds before Anthony Huber moves his skateboard toward him. Rittenhouse appears to fire two rounds at the man but apparently misses as the man runs away.
This charge is a felony punishable by 12 1/2 years in prison. The weapons modifier again would add up to five more years.
Schroeder said he would decline prosecutors’ request that jurors be allowed to consider this charge in the second degree.
COUNT 4: FIRST-DEGREE INTENTIONAL HOMICIDE, USE OF A DANGEROUS WEAPON
This charge is connected to Huber’s death. Video shows Rittenhouse running down the street after shooting Rosenbaum when he falls to the street. Huber leaps at him and swings a skateboard at his head and neck and tries to grab Rittenhouse’s gun before Rittenhouse fires. The criminal complaint alleges Rittenhouse aimed the weapon at Huber.
Intentional homicide means just that – a person killed someone and meant to do it. Bucher said that if Rittenhouse pointed the gun at Huber and pulled the trigger that would amount to intentional homicide. However, self-defense would trump the charge.
‘Why I intended to kill this individual makes the difference,’ Bucher said.
The count carries a mandatory life sentence. The weapons modifier would add up to five years.
Prosecutors asked Schroeder to give the jury the option of second-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide and second-degree reckless homicide in Huber’s death. The defense objected only to the second-degree reckless homicide charge, and Schroeder said he ’embraced’ that argument.
Second-degree intentional homicide is a fallback charge when a defendant believed he was in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that it was necessary to use force – but either belief was unreasonable. It’s punishable by up to 60 years in prison.
The first-degree reckless homicide charge sought in Huber’s death matches an original charge in Rosenbaum’s death – it would require jurors to decide that Rittenhouse caused Huber’s death with an utter disregard for human life – and is punishable by up to 60 years in prison.
COUNT 5: ATTEMPTED FIRST-DEGREE INTENTIONAL HOMICIDE, USE OF A DANGEROUS WEAPON
This is the charge for Rittenhouse shooting Gaige Grosskreutz in the arm seconds after he shot Huber, and as Grosskreutz came toward him holding a pistol. Grosskreutz survived. Video shows Rittenhouse pointing his gun at Grosskreutz and firing a single round.
The charge carries a maximum sentence of 60 years. The weapons modifier would add up to five more years.
Prosecutors asked that the jury be allowed to consider lesser counts in the Grosskreutz shooting: second-degree attempted intentional homicide, first-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree reckless endangerment. Defense attorneys didn’t oppose the first, but did oppose adding the reckless endangerment counts. Schroeder didn’t rule but said he was inclined to side with prosecutors.
The possible punishment for attempted second-degree intentional homicide is 30 years.
DISMISSED – COUNT 6: POSSESSION OF A DANGEROUS WEAPON BY A PERSON UNDER 18
Rittenhouse was armed with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle. He was 17 years old on the night of the shootings. Wisconsin law prohibits minors from possessing firearms except for hunting. It was not clear on Friday what Schroeder intends to tell jurors about that charge.
The charge is a misdemeanor punishable by up to nine months behind bars.
Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed count 6 from Rittenhouse’s rap sheet Monday morning.
COUNT 7: FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH AN EMERGENCY ORDER FROM STATE OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Rittenhouse was charged with being out on the streets after an 8 p.m. curfew imposed by the city, a minor offense that carries a fine of up to $200. Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed the charge during the second week of trial after the defense argued that prosecutors hadn’t offered enough evidence to prove it