500 members of the U.S. National Guard will be deployed to aid local police to prevent violence in the city of Kenosha, Wisconsin. The move was made ahead of a court decision on the shooting of Jacob Blake last August.
On Tuesday, Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley announced that his office will not be filing charges against any of the police officers involved in the shooting.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers authorized the deployment of the Guard in anticipation of riots should the outcome of the court decision not go the way activists intend, Kenosha News reports.
“We are continuing to work with our local partners in the Kenosha area to ensure they have the state support they need, just as we have in the past,” Evers said. “Our members of the National Guard will be on hand to support local first responders, ensure Kenoshans are able to assemble safely, and to protect critical infrastructure as necessary.”
Blake was shot several times by police during an altercation with officers, where he resisted arrest and escaped a taser. Footage shows that Blake dove into his car in an apparent attempt to reach for a weapon before he was shot. The shooting prompted riots across the United States. In Kenosha, rioters burned down multiple businesses, and several people were shot on the second night of rioting after counter-protesters, including Kyle Rittenhouse, confronted left-wing activists.
Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time of the August riots, is alleged to have shot three men, killing two. Also on Tuesday, he pleaded not guilty to all charges. His lawyers claim the shootings were an act of self-defence.
Last November, county prosecutors dropped a sexual assault charge against Blake, along with one count of domestic abuse and one count of criminal trespassing, in a plea bargain. Blake pleaded guilty to “two counts of disorderly conduct and domestic abuse and was sentenced to two years of probation,” according to NBC News.
At the time of the shooting, current President-elect Joe Biden expressed his condolences to Blake and condemned police action, but did not condemn the riots which took place over a period of several nights and caused widespread damage from which the city is yet to recover.
President Donald Trump was among the first politicians to visit the ravaged city of Kenosha following the riots. Biden and Senator Kamala Harris followed suit with a visit to the Blake family, despite the criminal charges against Blake at the time.
Businesses in downtown Kenosha have erected boards to protect their buildings in anticipation of unrest. Kenosha city workers have also constructed fencing around the courthouse and police have sealed off several streets to block traffic to the location.
In August, Gov. Evers initially declined President Trump’s offer of assistance from federal law enforcement but quickly backtracked on his position following increased violence.