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Society

Rittenhouse Due to Make First In-Person Court Appearance

MADISON, Wis. — Kyle Rittenhouse, the Illinois man accused of killing two people during the chaotic protests that followed the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, was due Friday to make his first in-person court appearance.

COVID-19 protocols in the Kenosha County courthouse have forced Rittenhouse to make all his court appearances since he was charged in August via video from his attorney's office. But those restrictions have lifted and he was expected to appear in person for a mid-morning status conference. 

Attorneys and prosecutors were expected to iron out scheduling details ahead of Rittenhouse's November trial in what should be a routine proceeding. He faces multiple counts, including homicide and reckless endangerment.

Prosecutors say Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time, shot and killed two people and wounded a third in August after traveling from his home in Antioch, Illinois, to Kenosha. The city was in the throes of several nights of sometimes violent demonstrations after Officer Rusten Sheskey shot Blake, leaving the Black man paralyzed from the waist down. 

Rittenhouse and his attorneys have said he went to Kenosha to protect businesses. Video shows Rittenhouse, armed with an assault-style rifle, shooting Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber and Gaige Grosskreutz. Rosenbaum and Huber died. Grosskreutz survived his wounds.

Cellphone footage shows Rittenhouse, who is white, walking past police lines with his hands up and his rifle still slung over his shoulder even as protesters screamed that he had just shot people.

He turned himself in to police in Antioch several hours later, maintaining that the three men attacked him and he fired in self-defense.

He has since become a polarizing figure in the national conversation over police brutality and racism. Conservatives have held him up as a symbol for gun rights and praised him for pushing back against anti-police protesters, even going so far as to raise $2 million to cover his bail. Others contend he escalated tensions by walking around the protest with a rifle. 

Rittenhouse's attorney, Mark Richards, has said in court documents that Rittenhouse and his family have moved into an undisclosed safe house because they've received multiple threats. 

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