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Day One Recap of the Kyle Rittenhouse Trial: Potential Jurors Were Scared

Mark Hertzberg/Pool Photo via AP

KENOSHA, Wisc. — "There are no winners, we could all say whatever to get out of the chair. Whatever the verdict is, half of the country is going to be up in arms about it. We saw what happened last year," was how one potential juror expressed her concern on Monday about being placed on the official jury in the highly-watched Kyle Rittenhouse trial.

The woman was not alone in her concerns. One potential juror said the thought of taking part in the trial was very scary because they don't know what they'll face when they leave the Kenosha County Courthouse. They added "no one" wanted to be seated in the room at that moment. Another woman said she took a Lyft to the courthouse instead of taking her car. The last potential juror said she drove a different car instead of the one she usually drives. It was all in an attempt to remain as anonymous as possible so people can't track them down.

When pressed by Rittenhouse's defense team and Judge Bruce Schroeder, most of those who expressed concern for the safety of themselves and the town said they would be able to set that aside and make a fair ruling. Schroeder said in all of his years working as a judge, there has not been a single incident where something unfortunate happened to a juror. He noted there will be measures put in place to keep the official jury safe while the trial is ongoing.

Schroeder further stated even judges, whose faces and names are well-known to communities, are rarely threatened, let alone killed.

The honesty from the pool of potential jurors about being afraid of being placed on the official jury is something supporters of Rittenhouse were worried about. After all, the possibility of riots in Kenosha if an innocent verdict is reached is no empty threat. The scars from what happened last summer are still evident driving down the areas that were hit the hardest. To highlight how small of a town Kenosha is, the shootings that are at the center of the trial took place less than a mile away from the courthouse. 

Being back once again in Kenosha has been an odd feeling. It's a mix of a twisted nostalgia and shock at how peaceful things are, for now, in the same areas where mayhem and anarchy reigned. Once you're past the courthouse, it looks as though it is just another day in Kenosha.

The only thing the city has going for it in terms of no riots happening no matter what the eventual verdict is, is that it is very cold and will only get colder as the trial goes on, although it is expected to finish next Friday and not in December. From what I witnessed during the second half of the shootings and from what I've been able to gather from all the videos and eyewitness statements from the night of August 25, Rittenhouse has a strong case for self-defense. All of it can be for naught, however, if the jury disregards the evidence presented and decides to make a verdict with their own safety and the town's safety as the main priority.

Like what I say when it comes to covering riots, anything can happen. It is still too early to tell and the trial officially kicks off today. Whatever happens, I'll be covering the trial in Kenosha until the verdict is reached.

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