In broad daylight on Thursday morning in Kewaskum, a large crowd outside the courthouse erupted in anger and traffic was stopped in the city and surrounding area as a massive crowd descended upon the courthouse.
In the courtroom, meanwhile, tears fell on the faces of some who are still in mourning.
Kyle Rittenhouse, who is alleged to have launched an unprovoked attack that killed two people, was found guilty of reckless homicide and first-degree reckless homicide by a jury in Kenosha County Circuit Court.
But that verdict, like the courthouse crowd of prosecutors and a wave of angry and angry witnesses, is only one part of an outrage that is stirring up the community in this picturesque town along the shores of Lake Michigan.
“The verdict is devastating to us,” said Pam Hodgen, executive director of the Wisconsin chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Last month, residents said they weren’t looking for justice in the case, but forgiveness.
We’re just waiting for all of the anger to subside and we’ll move on with our lives.
“We’re just waiting for all of the anger to subside and we’ll move on with our lives,” said Pam Hodgen, executive director of the Wisconsin chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Earlier this year, three men were sentenced to prison for the 2014 incident. Rittenhouse was given a 15-year prison sentence.
Rittenhouse threw a snowball at the victims, killing their friend Jeremy Hurd, 19, of South Milwaukee, and injuring their friends.
Hodgen said it will take time to come to terms with the verdict.
“The frustrations we are seeing here are very much a reflection of our society right now,” Hodgen said. “The ability to hold people accountable for their actions so they can pay a price for what they did to us is something that’s really difficult to do in this day and age.
Some local leaders have tried to hold the family of Jeremy Hurd and the brother of victim Garland Vantress, Chris Vantress, accountable. But Hodgen said that isn’t productive and her organization is working to organize a march and a press conference in support of Hurd’s family.
“There are people who think that, even though this crime happened, that we should simply accept it and that it’s going to be the next day where it’s done with and it’s time to move on,” Hodgen said. “That’s not at all how we view this. This case has real repercussions for the community of Kenosha. We can’t just move on as if nothing happened.”
Kewaskum Mayor John Lavelle said he sees the street violence and rising dissatisfaction in the community as temporary.
“I think the days of people having grief and moving on are over.”
(The Washington Post was a media partner of Kewaskum P.D. for the trial.)