KENOSHA - They came Wednesday to wait for a verdict, air their opinions or just bear witness to the swirl of emotion and noise playing out on the grand steps of the Kenosha County Courthouse.
The rawness of these past months in Kenosha, the stakes in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, the national media magnifying the scene, all of that and more spilled onto those steps while inside a jury considered the fate of the teen from Antioch, Illinois.
Justin Blake, carrying a Pan-African flag, took in the scene. And he liked what he saw.
Blake has been leading a vigil at the courthouse during each day of the trial. He's the uncle of Jacob Blake, whose shooting was a key link in the chain of events that came to be known as the country's racial reckoning.
"Man, this is what democracy is all about baby," Justin Blake said. "We’re supposed to get mad. We’re supposed to get in each other’s faces and then go back home to our families. That’s what you see on the courthouse steps."
Of the few dozen people who assembled on the steps, a majority appeared to want Rittenhouse found guilty. They carried signs. Gave speeches. And remembered those killed by Rittenhouse.
Away from the steps, passersby looked on, trying to put what they were seeing in context.
"Just want to see what's going on, that everything is peaceful," said a local man named Dave, who was walking his Russian Staffordshire bull terrier.
"If everyone would talk to each other instead of scream at each other, they would realize there is common ground," he added.
And for a few moments, differences were bridged when those on the steps stopped to pray and share pizza purchased by a man who called himself a "concerned citizen from Pleasant Prairie."
The man, who said he is a supporter of the 2nd Amendment, even slipped on a T-shirt that read "Black Fathers Matter."
"I thought it was very awesome," said Clyde McLemore, who leads the Lake County, Ill., chapter of Black Lives Matter.
But a few minutes later, it grew tense, and there was a scuffle on the steps. A man wearing a shirt that said “(Expletive) Kyle” apparently punched another demonstrator, according to videos from the incident. He also picked up a nearby man and slammed him to the ground.
"A 20-year-old male was arrested for battery, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest," police said in a statement. "A 34-year-old female was arrested for disorderly conduct."
Late in the afternoon, the jury ended deliberations for the day. They'll continue tomorrow — as, almost certainly, will the gathering on the steps.
If it's anything like Wednesday's gathering, it will be another mixture of reality and theater.
Throughout the day, arguments broke out and a media scrum moved in to capture the moment.
A guy in a Confederate-style cap yelled at a man in a cowboy hat.
"I think they should let him go," shouted the guy in the cap at the man in the hat.
A group of demonstrators began to shout "Black lives matter," and the Confederate-style cap guy responded, "So do white lives."
The cap guy, Chuck Reed from Milwaukee, proudly showed off a "Hillary Behind Bars" T-shirt. He shouted about being kicked off Facebook.
"I got a big enough mouth, I want to be heard," he said. "Let them kick me off the courthouse stairs."
Joseph Scordato Jr. was easy to spot. He was dressed as a knight, and even wore a helmet. He said he was there to talk to people
"I want to interview people and find out their individual voices," he said.
He also supported Rittenhouse, claiming "he acted in self-defense."
Savannah Jones from Racine was with her friend Nichole Tschida of Kenosha. They want to see Rittenhouse found guilty.
"He didn't have to kill," Jones said.
Tschida, who carried a sign that read "Lock Up Kyle for Awhile," took the courthouse step arguments in stride.
"They're letting off steam and we're replying," she said.
Steve Stewart said he had taken a red-eye flight from his home in California to Chicago, rented a car and made his way to Kenosha.
"I want to support the Rittenhouse family," he said, as he held a sign with a lengthy inscription that began, "Self Defense Is Not A Crime."
"It's safe," he added. "I don't feel like there will be any violence here. I'm saddened by the lack of additional Rittenhouse support."
Kenosha County sheriff's deputies discretely watched over the scene.
When a guy who called himself Maserati Mike showed up early, the deputies intervened.
Maserati Mike, who wore a bow tie and a tactical vest, carried a bullhorn and a long rifle. Deputies asked him to put the rifle away.
Maserati Mike complied and pulled away in his Maserati.
He returned around an hour later, without the rifle, and used the bullhorn to declare that Black Lives Matter was "a terrorist organization."
Hardly anyone paid attention.
Journal Sentinel reporter Sophie Carson contributed to this report.
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Rittenhouse trial draws emotional mix to steps of Kenosha courthouse