After Kyle Rittenhouse (Kyle Rittenhouse) trial, a city and country want to know “Where did we come from”

The deadly rifle shot through the air just one block from Linda Tolliver’s used tire shop. Nearly 15 months later, teenage gunman Kyle Rittenhouse (Kyle Rittenhouse) The court was tried four blocks away.

Since the fatal shooting of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and the injury of Gaige Grosskreutz, Tolliver has called it This small city on the shores of Lake Michigan has always been the focus of national attention.

“I’m exhausted,” she said in a cold garage full of jacks and piles of tires. “No one knows where we are going from here.”

Saturday, one The day after Rittenhouse was acquitted In August 2020, a black man was shot and killed during a shooting incident during a protest against police brutality. Amidst all the accusations, the whole city was enveloped in a creepy calm.

Outside the Kenosha County Courthouse, a man pacing back and forth holding an American flag.television News Truck Is packing up. Nearby, city workers assembled a temporary ice skating rink to spend the holidays.

Despite this, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers still has 500 National Guards on standby.

The overwhelming majority of white juries — seven women and five men — took 3.5 days in the downtown courthouse to make a decision. This was the culmination of a two-week trial that intensified A fierce national debate on guns, security, and law and order.

On Friday night and early Saturday, several demonstrations were held in cities such as New York, Chicago, and Portland, Oregon. The protesters saw this as a failure of the criminal justice system. In Los Angeles, about 20 people gathered at Pan Pacific Park on Saturday, marching peacefully along the sidewalk, through the bustling Grove Shopping Center, holding the words “Kyle Rittenhouse and the whole damn system are guilty” The slogan urges shoppers to join them.

When the 18-year-old Rittenhouse was driven out of Kenosha in an SUV after the verdict, the Fox News documentary crew also accompanied them.

“The jury made the right verdict. Self-defense is not illegal,” Rittenhouse said in a video released on Saturday. “And I believe they made the right verdict, and I am very happy that everything went well.”

Decades ago, it became Police shot Jacob Black In the days that followed, in the days of burning buildings and Rittenhouse firing his AR-15 rifle, Kenosha was probably best known for assembling the Hornet and Pokemon for the now-defunct American car company. . Residents say that current attention may lead to permanent red letters written for the Rust Belt City with a population of 100,000.

“When someone mentions this city, the first thing Americans think of is violence and death,” said Kevin Owen, co-owner of Franks. Dinner in the city center. Before serving his special dish “garbage plate”-hash browns, eggs, green peppers, onions, bacon-he paused to review what happened last year.

In the days after the Kenosha white policeman, Rasten Siski, shot and killed Black, protesters marched back and forth on the street outside the Owen restaurant.

Federal law enforcement and the National Guard were sent to the city for several weeks to protect property. But many small businesses were destroyed or damaged in the turmoil.

“It escalated quickly,” Irving recalled the moment he saw the flames. A restaurant down the block started to catch fire.

“I am worried about my business,” he said. “We think the whole city could be burned down.”

Rittenhouse, a resident of Antioch, Illinois, has been visiting friends and family in Kenosha. He arrived at the protest with a gun and shot and killed three white men, and later said in court that he was in self-defense.

Owen watched the trial closely, and a thought recurred in his mind: “Why would a child come with a gun at this chaotic moment?”

“It makes no sense,” he said, adding that he believes that justice has not been done. “There must be some accountability.”

Rachel Hird, who owns an antique shop in Antioch, stood 20 miles southwest of Kenosha and walked past a few customers on a quiet Saturday morning, passing by dry cornfields. Hurd said she didn’t watch much trial.

“As far as I know, he seems to be defending himself,” she said. “But it is disturbing to see children carrying guns on the street.”

The video played during the trial showed Rosenbaum chasing Rittenhouse through the parking lot before Rittenhouse shot.

The second person killed by Rittenhouse, Huber, can be seen waving a skateboard over Rittenhouse’s head before trying to grab his rifle in the middle of the street where hundreds of protesters gathered.

At the end of the trial, Rittenhouse stood up. Testified that he appeared to protect property And provide medical assistance to anyone in need.

“I did nothing wrong,” Rittenhouse said. “I defend myself.”

That night, 25-year-old Emily Orr was protesting racial justice and ending police brutality. She is a mental health therapist and part-time bartender and is from Kenosha. Except for several years of graduate school in Milwaukee, Orr lived here all his life. She said that when Rittenhouse fired fatal bullets at Rosenbaum and Huber, she was hit by police tear gas.

“There is no doubt that justice has not been done,” she said from behind a marble bar in downtown Kenosha on Saturday. She said that because of this perception, she lost several friends last year.

White Orr said: “People will show their true colors when they talk about Black or protests. They are truly racist.” “It’s sad because this is my community.”

When the business here started to boom, she was upset. But she thought of the words of Pastor Martin Luther King Jr.: “The riot is an unheard of language.”

“People haven’t heard it for a long time,” she said.

40 miles north of Milwaukee, retired police captain Eric Moore also witnessed the damage caused by the protests.

In 2014, a Milwaukee police officer killed an unarmed black man and was never charged with a crime. In 2016, a police officer killed a black man holding a gun while escaping from a traffic station, and riots swept the city.

When he looked south to see what was happening in Kenosha, Moore said: “The entire community is traumatized by all the conflicts that have occurred.”

“The whole situation,” he said, “seems to be another step in our country’s seemingly unstoppable journey toward general chaos. It’s very sad.”

Back in Kenosha, 60-year-old Tolliver stood in the garage of her Ed’s Used Tires store. This is the same store opened by her father in 1961. The day before Rittenhouse shot and killed the three men, the demonstrators smashed the windows of the shop. She saw protesters heading to her company on the Facebook live broadcast. She jumped on the Toyota Celica and rushed over. She said she didn’t bring a gun, but she slept in her building that night to prevent people from destroying it. She said the store lost a total of $30,000.

“I’m very lucky, I didn’t lose everything,” she said.

Toliver said that when she thought of death, she thought Rittenhouse was “young and stupid.”

“This will accompany him for the rest of his life,” she said.

On the day of the verdict, several companies in the area closed their doors early. Some people use boards to seal the windows. Tolliver allowed her mechanics to go home because she wanted to make sure they were safe.

To her relief, nothing happened after the verdict was read on Friday. The few protesters in the center of the courthouse were peaceful.

“We just want to work and earn a living,” she reflects. “And do it calmly.”

Special contributors Jaweed Kaleem and Christian Martinez of the Los Angeles Times contributed to this report.

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