MADISON, Wis. (WFRV) – Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has declared a state of emergency following protests across Wisconsin in light of the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha.
On Tuesday, Gov. Evers signed Executive Order #86 that proclaims a state of emergency in Wisconsin, directs state agencies to continue assisting the state response, and calls to state active duty additional elements of the Wisconsin National Guard to support first responders and protect critical infrastructure and cultural institutions.
“The ability to exercise First Amendment rights is a critically important part of our democracy and the pursuit of justice. But there remains a line between peaceful assembly and what we saw last night that put individuals, families, and businesses in danger.
“We cannot forget the reason why these protests began, and what we have seen play out over the last two nights and many nights this year is the pain, anguish, and exhaustion of being Black in our state and country. But as I said yesterday, and as I’ll reiterate today, everyone should be able to exercise their fundamental right—whether a protester or member of the press—peacefully and safely. We cannot allow the cycle of systemic racism and injustice to continue. We also cannot continue going down this path of damage and destruction.
“We are assessing the damage to state property and will be increasing the presence of the Wisconsin National Guard to ensure individuals can exercise their right safely, protect state buildings and critical infrastructure, and support first responders and firefighters.
“Tonight, and in the days ahead, if you are going to protest, please do so peacefully and safely. Please do not allow the actions of a few distract us from the work we must do together to demand justice, equity, and accountability.”
Following the request of local officials on Monday, Gov. Evers authorized the Wisconsin National Guard to help protect critical infrastructure and assist in maintaining public safety and the ability of individuals to peacefully protest in Kenosha County.
After protests broke out across Wisconsin, Gov. Evers authorized increased National Guard support for Kenosha County to 250 members. Gov. Evers says this will continue to adjust to meet local needs.
According to Gov. Evers, the 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. Pursuant to Section 321.39(1)(a) of the Wisconsin Statutes, the governor ordered into state active-duty members of the Wisconsin National Guard deemed necessary to support to local law enforcement and first responders in Kenosha. 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.