'A lot of anxieties:' Kenosha prepares for start of Kyle Rittenhouse trial

’A lot of anxieties: ’ Kenosha prepares for start of Kyle Rittenhouse trial

KENOSHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The Kenosha County Sheriff's Department said it will have an increased police presence in and around the County Courthouse during the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse.

The Illinois man is charged with shooting and killing two people and injuring a third during unrest in Kenosha last year following the shooting of Jacob Blake by a Kenosha police officer.

In a statement, the department said the measures are meant to, "ensure the safety of the public that has legal business in and around the courthouse campus, as well as Civic Center employees, while maintaining the integrity of the trial."

There are currently no plans to put up a security fence around the courthouse.

Community members hope there is not a need for more safety measures.

"I really don't know what's going to happen," Stella Guadalupe told CBS 58.

Guadalupe is the owner of Stella's Hair Salon, which is located only two blocks away from the courthouse. She said her business had to board up its exteriors and cut back hours during unrest in the city in 2020.

"It was scary because my place was boarded up for over two and a half months," Guadalupe recalled.

Public safety measures like curfews also affected her employees.

"That affected my daily work schedule, where I wasn't able to bring in any income because of having to be home for the curfew," Amanda Terrazas, a Stella's Hair Salon employee, said.

Small businesses like Stella's are concerned the attention and activity around the Rittenhouse trial could bring unrest and further add to struggles brought on by last year's events and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Community activists are also concerned about people's safety.

"There are a lot of anxieties going on around in town," Tanya McLean, executive director for Leaders of Kenosha, told CBS 58 in an interview. "People are very concerned about what our town will look like next week and who may take flight to come here to Kenosha, and we know that there's probably going to be a lot of tension."

McLean said the city is still recovering from last year and hopes cooler heads prevail during the trial.

"It's just a really difficult situation and I don't think anyone's feeling easy," McLean said. "We just do not want to see any type of hurt, harm or danger come to anyone in our community."

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