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After 2 days of riots, Evers declares emergency

Empower Wisconsin | Aug. 26, 2020

MADISON — It only took Gov. Tony Evers two days to wake up and proclaim a “State of Emergency” exists in Wisconsin.

Even then, the liberal political tool had to invoke the name of George Floyd and plug his call for a legislative special session to pass bills on “equity and justice.”

While desperately clinging to the notion the Black Lives Matter protests that have swept through Wisconsin and the nation are “mostly peaceful,” even Evers had to smell the smoke from Kenosha and see the shattered glass on State Street and the Capitol Square.

“Unfortunately, some individuals have deviated from peaceful protest and have engaged in unlawful, harmful, and dangerous activities, including arson, which has endangered the lives of protesters and bystanders, which cannot be tolerated,” the governor’s Executive Order #86 declares.

So, Evers, begrudgingly, is calling to active duty “such additional elements of the Wisconsin National Guard” as his appointed adjutant general “deems necessary” to support local law enforcement, protect critical infrastructure and cultural institutions and provide support to first responders.

Disturbing scenes

Evers less-than-swift move comes after a second night of chaos in Kenosha and parts of downtown Madison. The riots in the two cities followed the police-involved shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man who police say was at the scene of a domestic disturbance. Video from the shooting is disturbing, capturing Blake being shot several times in the back while he apparently disobeys police commands and climbs into the driver’s side of his vehicle.

Also disturbing are the scenes of rioting, looting and violence, including the burning of public and private property and attacks on police officers.

In Madison, about 500 protesters marching through the downtown area set dumpsters on fire, smashed windows, including at the Capitol, and looted multiple businesses, according to police.

“One business was entered, and members of the crowd poured what appeared to be gasoline inside it, then attempted to start a fire,” the incident report states. Police had to provide security to firefighters called in to battle multiple blazes. Rioters threw rocks, bottles and other projectiles at police.

Madison has seen this movie before. In fact, the latest riots are the third such wave of protester destruction to hit the city. As Empower Wisconsin has reported  Evers was slow to call in the National Guard during the riots of June 23-24 when protesters ripped down iconic Capitol statues, damaged several buildings, savagely attacked a state senator and firebombed the City County Building. Texts obtained by Empower Wisconsin show Evers and his staff failed to secure the Capitol grounds. In fact, Evers ordered Capitol Police to remain inside the building while rioters tore up the exterior and dragged down the statues.

Zach Madden, Evers’ legislative liaison sent an update to lawmakers Tuesday morning, informing them that law enforcement responded to the “civil unrest that occurred at the Capitol.”

“For the second time this summer, my Capitol office was vandalized by a violent mob of rioters,” said state Sen. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafied), in a statement. “While the damage to my office pales in comparison to the destruction of property and livelihoods happening in both Madison and Kenosha, it is emblematic of the growing disregard for the rule of law by some elected officials.”

Kapenga said the governor has the resources and the responsibility to stop the violence and destruction, “yet he foments division and destruction while hiding in the Governor’s Mansion with police protection.”

Several conservative lawmakers criticized the governor earlier this week when he took to twitter just hours after the Blake incident and fired off incendiary and blanket statements about law enforcement.

’The city is burning’

Early Tuesday, the Evers’ plan seemed to be boarding up Capitol windows. The Department of Administration sent lawmakers a notice telling them that the facilities crew was covering the exterior ground floor windows of the Capitol, the Risser Justice Center and the Tommy G. Thompson Center as a “precautionary measure.”

State Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) and Rep. Samantha Kerkman (R-Salem) sent Evers a letter begging him to take action to stop the rioting and lawlessness. The governor earlier had called up the National Guard to assist in Kenosha, but their presence seemed to have little impact. Neither did a 9 p.m. curfew issued by the city.

“The city is burning. Residents are heartbroken, terrified for their lives and livelihoods and city. They are literally begging and crying for help,” wrote Wanggaard and Kerkman, who represent much of Kenosha County.

“Cornerstones of Kenosha, like the Danish Brotherhood, and small businesses have been destroyed, leaving hundreds of people unemployed. Rioters have tried to destroy irreplaceable historic buildings like the Simmons Library and Courthouse,” the lawmakers added. “The scars of this week cannot heal until the violence stops. The rioting must end.”

In a follow-up letter, the lawmakers expressed concern that the 250 Guard members the governor called up may not be enough to deal with the hundreds demonstrators if they riot again. They said President Donald Trump had been in contact with the governor’s office and had offered federal law enforcement assistance. 

In his executive order, Evers quoted Martin Luther King Jr., “That injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

There are a lot of people in Kenosha, Madison and communities across Wisconsin hoping the governor also sees the injustice in the destruction of businesses, neighborhoods and government buildings in the name of “social justice.”

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