‘Kenosha is strong’: Residents, businesses react to national attention from Kyle Rittenhouse trial

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KENOSHA, Wis. (CBS 58) — The spotlight is on Kenosha as people across the country continue to watch coverage of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.

Media outlets from around the country surround the Kenosha County Courthouse as the jury deliberates a verdict.

“It’s more frustrating, kind of, in a way, than anything,” Elizabeth Pofahl said.

People from Kenosha, like Elizabeth and her mother Karen Pofahl, are ready for their city to go back to normal.

“I don’t see this going on forever. I see our town getting back to normal eventually,” Karen Pofahl said.

They want people living outside of Kenosha to know the city is more than what they see on TV.

“Don’t let this one incident here ruin us because we’re stronger than that. Kenosha is strong,” Karen Pofahl said.

Regardless of what the jury decides, Elizabeth Pofahl hopes it’s a peaceful reaction.

“I’m just hoping this time around that there isn’t any damage or anything serious, because it took a lot out of the town,” Elizabeth Pofahl said.

Kenosha police have not set a curfew or closed streets near the courthouse.

Downtown Kenosha businesses are also reacting to the pending verdict.

We spoke to several local shops in downtown Kenosha Wednesday. They're ready for this to come to an end because they say it's been an exhausting year for the city.

"I think the whole city just wants it behind us, whatever happens with the verdict happens but at least they'll be done," said Kevin Ervin, co-owner of Frank's Diner.

Ervin says he's very optimistic and doesn't expect mayhem when the verdict comes down.

"I think a lot of people learned their lesson last year," he said. "The city is much more prepared. I think business owners are more prepared and I think the general tone is a little different."

Over at Gold Standard Social Club, it's the same story.

"I'm really hoping that this is over soon," said Courtney Barrell. "I'm not as worried about rioting as I was last time."

Many business owners say they are not boarding up. They don't want to live and work in fear, but they say they also don't want outsiders on their turf, guilty or not guilty verdict.

"We don't need your help. We don't need anybody from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, wherever you're from, stay where you're at."

"We'd like this to get over, we're heading into winter, darker days," said Joel Richardson of Total Cyclery. 

Owners say business will continue as usual this week. They don't expect to close up early.

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