Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers announced on Wednesday night he called out the state’s contingent of the National Guard. PBS reported the move was made after a night of unrest and violent protests on Tuesday. In a statement regarding calling out the National Guard, Evers said something changed in the demonstrations that had been associated with the Black Lives Matter movement and protests against the death of George Floyd.
The reported night of violence included the toppling of two statues. One of the statues taken down was a Civil War-era figure who fought for the abolition of slavery. Protesters were also accused of attacking a Wisconsin state senator. Reports of someone throwing a Molotov cocktail at a state office building and attempted break-ins at the state capital were also singled out by Evers as reasons he felt the National Guard was needed.
The arrest of a Black man who was reportedly shouting at customers at a restaurant through a megaphone reportedly started a chain reaction that led to some of the violence on Tuesday night. Evers toured the damage from the demonstrations on Wednesday morning and said he was calling out the guard in order to make sure people could “exercise their First Amendment rights” while making sure that the safety of others, as well as public buildings, was being assured.
“If your goal was to advance social justice and policing reforms in the state of Wisconsin and making sure systemic racism is a thing of the past, you failed,” Evers said of the protesters.
Some Republicans in the state reportedly blamed Evers and other Democrats for moving too slowly to quell the protests. Republican Alderman Paul Skidmore of Madison told the media on Tuesday that he felt the protesters were emboldened by the actions of Wisconsin’s governor. He felt not calling out the guard earlier led to people believing they could cause violence and damage without facing repercussions.
While the protests are said to be directly related to the anger this summer over the death of George Floyd, there is also reportedly simmering anger over the death of a Black teenager in 2015. He was shot dead by a police officer who remains on the force. The shooting was said to have been referenced several times over the last few weeks during what were said to be mostly peaceful protests.
Democratic state Sen. Tim Carpenter was assaulted on Tuesday night when he took a cellphone video of the protests. Carpenter said he was punched and kicked in the head and ribs. He added he thought innocent people were going to get killed if the violence continued.