By John McCormack, National Review
As we await a verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, here’s one question that needs to be asked: Why didn’t Wisconsin governor Tony Evers act decisively to prevent the carnage in Kenosha in the first place?
On the afternoon of Sunday, August 23 — three months after the murder of George Floyd and the riots it sparked — a Kenosha police officer shot African American Jacob Blake. The shooting was far more complicated than initial reports indicated: Blake had a knife, resisted arrest after being tasered, and was reaching into his car when he was shot. Officers were also aware there was a warrant out for Blake’s arrest on charges of third-degree sexual assault. But the video of the incident almost guaranteed that riots would occur without decisive action.
No such action was forthcoming. That evening, instead of deploying the National Guard to Kenosha, Evers sent out an inflammatory tweet suggesting that police may have behaved “mercilessly” in their encounter with Blake.
“Tonight, Jacob Blake was shot in the back multiple times, in broad daylight, in Kenosha, Wisconsin,” Evers tweeted. “While we do not have all of the details yet, what we know for certain is that he is not the first Black man or person to have been shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state or our country.” A few hours later, 100 cars were torched in Kenosha.
It wasn’t until the next morning, August 24, that Evers called out the National Guard — and even then he sent only 125 guardsmen to Kenosha, which has a population of just under 100,000. That night, arsonists set fire to dozens of buildings in the city.
On Tuesday, August 25, Evers sent another 125 members of the National Guard. But that evening, the Washington Post reported, law-enforcement agents were “overwhelmed” by rioters and “the only visible law enforcement presence was around the Kenosha County Courthouse, where an 8-foot-high fence was erected around the building, with about 1,000 protesters gathered outside the barrier.”
Evers had turned down an offer of federal support earlier that day. “I have no regrets because the only thing I said no to was Homeland Security and I knew that would not work out because of what I saw in Portland,” Evers said after the fact.
Evers has defended his minimal deployment of guardsmen by saying, “We have fulfilled every request that the leadership in Kenosha have asked for.” But Evers was and is the governor — the commander of the Wisconsin National Guard. His job in such a situation isn’t merely to defer to requests from city and county officials; it’s to anticipate and head off rioting. Given that the country had just witnessed riots following the murder of George Floyd, he should have immediately known greater numbers of riot police and National Guard would be necessary to keep the peace.
Most people who believe Rittenhouse was acting in self-defense and is therefore not guilty of murder nevertheless concede that a minor with no training should not have been playing the part of riot cop on the streets of Kenosha on August 25. That’s fair enough: Neither vigilantes nor rioters should have been there that night.
But riots are not acts of God. They are caused by men, and it takes men to stop them. If the man in charge of Wisconsin’s National Guard had deployed 1,500 Guardsmen on August 23, August 24, or August 25, it’s entirely possible that the deadly encounter between Rittenhouse and Rosenbaum would have never occurred.
Read more at National Review.