I walked into a mess of glass and broken windows at my Capitol office on Wednesday morning. Tuesday night, June 23, 2020, violent rioters attacked the State Capitol building.
My window and windows in four other Senate offices were smashed. Tear gas was deployed from inside my colleague’s office. The statue of Hans Christian Heg, a noted Civil War abolitionist was defaced, beheaded, torn down and thrown into Lake Monona. The statue of Lady Forward was defaced, torn down and left in the middle of the road. Rioters attempted to gain entry to the State Capitol building by attacking the large wooden doors in the south wing. They also destroyed the historic outdoor lighting at the south entrance.
Worst of all, rioters brutally assaulted State Senator Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee), who took a photo with his phone and was attacked. He suffered serious injuries and needed medical care. My prayers are with him for swift healing.
This violent vandalism and brutal assault follows weeks of “protesting” in downtown Madison where dozens of privately-owned businesses have been looted and vandalized. I cannot imagine how it feels to watch your business destroyed by looters. I cannot imagine the despair of losing your investments, long hours, personal sacrifices and hard work to a bunch of clueless young people who break your windows, destroy your property and steal from you. I cannot fathom how it feels to listen to city and state leaderspraise “peaceful” protests that to you – were anything but peaceful!
As I peered out of the broken glass on Wednesday morning, Governor Tony Evers walked by, surveying the damage. I told him that this is not the way we resolve differences in my district, and it shouldn’t be the way we resolve issues in Madison. This was not a peaceful protest. This was lawless rioting and senseless destruction. It is disgusting. It needs to end.
I told him that he needs to do everything he can to protect the Capitol building. If the Mayor of Madison won’t protect her city, we must call in the National Guard to end this senseless, pointless violence before more people are injured and livelihoods are destroyed. The brutal attack of Sen. Tim Carpenter should never have happened.
No one should be afraid to visit our State Capitol. But Dane County Sheriff David Mahoney told the public that downtown Madison is not safe. He told the public to leave downtown after 4 p.m. on Wednesday, June 24, 2020 because he could not guarantee safety from an unpredictable mob. This is unacceptable.
I have not issued a formal comment on the death of George Floyd to this point because I didn’t feel it was my place. I do not usually weigh-in on every national headline. I try to focus on my own district and the people I serve. I am sorry for Floyd’s tragic death and I believe that our system of justice will punish the police officer who took his life.
Locally, many citizens of the 17th Senate District peacefully communicated, protested, met and shared their feelings about the death of George Floyd, racism, law enforcement and peace. I appreciate their messages and tone. I appreciate their respectful free speech and efforts to enact change. They are working with law enforcement. I believe that the vast majority of our local law enforcement have very good relationships with our citizens and care about everyone they serve. They are working for change together. This is the way to go. This is how it is done.
It is not done by destroying businesses, assaulting people and attacking the people’s house. The rioting this week was spurred by the arrest of a protest organizer who harassed and threatened patrons at a restaurant on the Capitol Square on Tuesday, June 23, 2020. Video shows him with a bullhorn and a baseball bat, shouting at people as they tried to eat their lunches. It was not peaceful. It was intimidation and violence.
Rioters were incited to Tuesday night’s violence because this organizer was arrested for disorderly conduct. This was not spontaneous. It was deliberate. Two wrongs do not make a right.
Our capitol city is under attack. Our state is under attack. There is an irrational, juvenile mob that is indiscriminately threatening our way of life. They have a mixed bag of demands and criticisms of our society. Some of their concerns are legitimate and are being addressed. Others don’t make any sense.
Either way, it is time for our state’s leadership to end this rather than feed the violent, irrational mob mentality that is hurting people, intimidating citizens, ruining livelihoods and attacking our freedoms. I demand that the Governor and the Mayor of Madison act. Now.
Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) represents Wisconsin’s 17th Senate District.