(The Center Square) – In his first comments about the death of George Floyd, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers spoke for more than four minutes about race, racism, and privilege without mentioning the violence that has broken out in Madison and Milwaukee.
“Over the past few days, we have been grieving as another black life was extinguished before our eyes. His name was George Floyd. He was 46. His life matters,” Evers started his video comments on YouTube. “George Floyd’s death – and the lives taken before him – are symptomatic of the disease we’ve failed to adequately treat for four centuries. Racism has never really gone away – it has only manifested itself in different ways, from incarceration rates to health outcome disparities, the wage gap to education inequity, and in good intentions.”
Evers spoke about what he’d like to see in order to hold law enforcement accountable for deaths like Floyd’s. He insisted that Wisconsin lawmakers pass AB-1020, a proposal that would require police to use force and deadly force only as a last result. The legislation also requires a statewide policy that spells out how law enforcement must deal with people who are battling drugs, alcohol or mental health issues. The legislation was introduced last year by a number of Democratic lawmakers. It went nowhere in Madison.
Absent new legislation, Evers said people must look at themselves and realize that they might be part of the problem.
“We need systemic change to address the racism in our state and our country. We must be willing to face it, with clear eyes and open hearts, recognizing that folks who look like me have been part of creating, exacerbating, and benefiting from the systems that we must now turn to dismantle,” Evers said. “We must confront society’s comfort with racism. We must re-establish trust with communities of color. We must be willing to listen, we must be willing to be uncomfortable, we must be willing to do the work.”
The governor did not mention the protests turned riots that have erupted in Madison since Saturday.
Madison Police say nearly 100 businesses have been damaged or broken into since Saturday night, and a handful of people have been injured.
There have also been reports of a stolen Madison Police car, someone firing on officers, and at least one report of someone trying to light a Molotov cocktail in Madison.
Evers has called up the National Guard to protect the State Capitol and assist the Madison Police Department. He didn’t mention either of those two groups in his YouTube comments.
Madison remains under a curfew.
Milwaukee also has seen protests turn violent, though not to the extent that Madison has since Floyd’s death last week.
Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square. Reposted with permission.