Kenosha Prepares for Rittenhouse Verdict As Third Day of Deliberations Closes

The drama inside the courtroom Thursay involved an admonishment of the media. 

Kenosha city police arrested someone revealed to be a freelance journalist for MSNBC news for purportedly running a red light, as Judge Bruce Schroeder echoed speculation that they were attempting to follow the jury bus and even take pictures of jurors.

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NBC News issued a statement acknowledging the incident but denied the freelancer was attempting to photograph or contact any jury members.

Still, Schroeder said the incident was serious enough to ban all MSNBC reporters from being in the courtroom for the remainder of the trial.

“This is a very serious matter, and I don't know what the ultimate truth of it is, but absolutely it wouldn't go without much thinking that someone who is following a jury bus is an extremely serious matter and it will be referred to upper authorities for further action,” Schroeder said.

Outside the courthouse was a chilly day of demonstrations between Kyle Rittenhouse supporters and opponents, although most of the arguments took on broader political and ideological themes.

Amid it all, the uncle of Jacob Blake, the man shot by Kenosha police that started the chain of events that led to unrest, and ultimately Rittenhouse's murder chargers, said Thursday he believes there is common ground to be found between the two sides.

“We’ve had some great back and forth on the front steps,” Justin Blake said. “And it just proves our whole point that we should be able to have opposite opinions, utilize our First Amendment rights and then everybody goes home ... that simple.”

Blake has been a constant demonstrator outside the courthouse, from morning through the night.

“This could’ve not happened had this young man not brought that gun into the scene of some high tension and chaoticness when he had ill proper training and an illegal gun,” Blake added. “It was just a cocktail for something bad to happen and it did.”

Meanwhile, Kenosha County Sheriff David G. Beth, who has become a well-known figure to observers of this case, spent the day outside the courthouse providing demonstrators with cookies, pastries and coffee in hopes that the friendly gesture would calm tensions.

Beth says his and other local law enforcement agencies are prepared to keep the town safe once there is a final resolution to this trial.

“The intelligence here says when this ends, it’s going to be pretty much done here,” Beth said. “We’re prepared if something does happen. We’ve been planning for a couple of months for this so we’re ready, but we’re hoping that all of this preparation is just a waste of time for us.”

Beth notes that it’s “business as usual” in Kenosha. Two blocks away, there are no indications that any national trial is taking place or that any unrest is fomenting.

Video: Watch our full interview with David G. Beth

The Kenosha Area Chamber of Commerce says businesses have rebuilt since the looting and burning of a year and a half ago, but there is cautious optimism the same scene won't repeat.

“Those who were doing the true, attempted destruction of our town weren’t from here. They wouldn’t do that,” said CEO and President of the Kenosha Area Chamber of Commerce Dave Strash. “We’re better prepared as a citizenry, as business owners, and as a community overall ... it was a riot hurricane that came to town, but I think we’re prepared for it this time.”

One other note, a man who showed up Wednesday armed with a rifle, going by the name of Maserati Mike, was back Thursday without a rifle, but with dogs.

His real name is reported to be Jesse Klein, a former police officer from Ferguson, Missouri who was fired from the town that erupted into unrest following the police shooting of Michael Brown.

Klein was seen driving around the courthouse again in his Maserati with Illinois plates, appearing to have a photographer taking pictures of his actions, which underscores the dynamic that there are folks here with strong opinions about this case, and others who appear to be here for a personal agenda.

Jurors ended day three in the Rittenhouse trial at about 4 p.m. Thursday. Day four of jury deliberations begins 9 a.m. Friday.

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