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500 National Guard troops on standby following Kyle Rittenhouse's not guilty verdict

Ahead of the verdict last week, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said 500 National Guard troops were on standby outside of Kenosha.

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Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges Friday after pleading self-defense in the deadly Kenosha shootings that became a flashpoint in the debate over guns, vigilantism and racial injustice in the U.S.

Ahead of the verdict, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said 500 National Guard troops were on standby outside of Kenosha.

Dramatic scenes — like Rittenhouse crying on the stand and the judge admonishing the prosecution last week — occurred inside the courtroom. Evers said he was going to be prepared for scenes outside the courtroom.

"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 in a statement Friday. "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."

Rittenhouse, 18, began to choke up, fell to the floor and then hugged one of his attorneys upon hearing the verdict.

He had been charged with homicide, attempted homicide and reckless endangering after killing two men and wounding a third with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle during a tumultuous night of protests over police violence against Black people in the summer of 2020. The former police youth cadet is white, as were those he shot.

The jury, which appeared to be overwhelmingly white, deliberated for close to 3 1/2 days.

Rittenhouse could have gotten life in prison if found guilty on the most serious charge, first-degree intentional homicide, or what some other states call first-degree murder.

As he dismissed the jurors, Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder assured them the court would take “every measure” to keep them safe.

A sheriff’s deputy immediately whisked Rittenhouse out a back door through the judge’s chambers.