By Benjamin Yount
Center Square News Service
There will be more Wisconsin National Guard troops in Kenosha, but not nearly as many as local leaders have requested. Governor Tony Evers on Wednesday doubled the number of troops he's sending to Kenosha to 500 to help police officers trying to quell riots and looting in the wake of the Sunday shooting of a Black man by police officers.
"The Wisconsin National Guard may not be used to impede the ability of people to peacefully protest or impede the ability of the media to report on this situation," the governor's office said in a statement. "Any Guard members called to active duty may only be used to provide support to local law enforcement and to protect critical infrastructure and cultural institutions necessary for the well-being of the community, and to provide support to first responders such as the Kenosha Fire Department." The governor's office also said they are working with other states for more Guard support and more help for the state patrol.
On Wednesday, The Brillion News learned that sheriff deputies from around the state are being sent to Kenosha for riot duty, including two from the Calumet County Sheriff's Department. Earlier on Wednesday, Kenosha County's board chairman asked Gov. Evers for 1,500 National Guard members. "Our county is under attack. Our businesses are under attack. Our homes are under attack," Chairman John O'Day wrote in the letter. "Our law enforcement agencies need additional support to bring civility back to our community." Two people died and a third individual wounded from gunshots around midnight Wednesday in Kenosha. Police in Lake County, Ill., have arrested 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who is suspected of committing the three shootings and is being held on suspicion of first-degree murder. Evers used the word "violence" for the first time when talking about that shooting, his earlier statements didn't use the word to describe the looting, arson, and attacks from violent protesters in Kenosha. "I want to be very clear: we should not tolerate violence against any person," the governor said Wednesday. "I’m grateful there has already been swift action to arrest one person involved. The individual or individuals whose actions resulted in this tragic loss of life must be held accountable." The top Republican in Wisconsin Assembly said despite the new words, Evers continues to put politics ahead of public safety in Kenosha. "This entirely lies at the feet of Tony Evers, and I have never been more disappointed and disgusted by the lack of an action by an official," Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told News Talk 1130 WISN's Jay Weber.
Evers initially rejected an offer from President Donald Trump to send more troops to Kenosha. Later, Evers accepted the offer.
In a joint statement, Congressman Bryan Steil, R-First District of Wisconsin, and U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, said they were glad Evers accepted the federal help.
“It is a tragedy that two peoplehad to lose their lives before Gov. Evers was willing to set aside politics and accept President Trump’s help to restore order in Kenosha. Violence and chaos like we’ve seen the last three nights do nothing to advance justice, and they drown out the voices of those protesting peacefully. Going forward, our focus should be on healing – for Jacob Blake, for the lives turned upside down in the rioting, and for the community of Kenosha.”