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."