(The Center Square) – The Wisconsin National Guard is being sent to Kenosha, and Wisconsin’s governor is asking lawmakers to come back to the Capitol after this weekend’s officer-involved shooting.
Gov. Tony Evers on Monday ordered 125 National Guard troops to Kenosha to guard infrastructure in the city and to “make sure that firefighters and others are kept safe.” He also said there would be an 8 p.m. curfew.
Rioters on Sunday night and early Monday morning set several fires, destroyed cars and attacked police.
At least one Kenosha officer was injured by a brick that was thrown.
Video shows two officers just behind a Black man identified as Jacob Blake as he walked to his SUV Sunday. When Blake opened the door and leaned in, the officers shot him several times. Blake was flown to a Milwaukee hospital for treatment where he remains in serious condition.
The two officers have been placed on indefinite leave.
The Kenosha News reported that at least half a dozen witnesses said Blake was attempting to break up a fight between two women when police intervened. The witnesses told the newspaper that officers attempted to use a Taser before shooting Blake.
The Chicago Tribune reported that the man who shot the cellphone video of the shooting said that he heard officers yell, “Drop the knife! Drop the knife!” before the shooting. The man said he didn’t see a knife in Blakes’ hands.
Evers on Monday also issued an executive order calling for a special session on police accountability and transparency.
“We must begin the long but important path toward ensuring our state and our country start to live up to our promises of equity and justice. I am urging the Legislature to rise to this occasion and give this special session the urgent and productive effort this moment demands and that the people of Wisconsin deserve,” the governor said in a statement.
All of the proposals the governor wants action on have been tried before. None of them have gained any traction in the legislature. The governor says he hopes this time is different.
The package of legislation includes LRB 6273/LRB 6424, which would create a statewide set of rules for all police departments, discourage use of force, and require police officers to step in if they see another police officer use too much force. It also includes LRB 6281/LRB 6429, which would allow police to ticket anyone who calls 911 because of someone’s race. And LRB 6283/LRB 6430 would require a yearly report on use of force.
Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes says the plans are a start.
“We know we cannot remedy the systemic racism built into all of our systems with just this package of bills, but that does not mean we should stand still,” Barnes said.
Wisconsin lawmakers are also reacting to the shooting in Kenosha.
Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, is urging everyone to not rush to judgement.
“It’s essential that we get a complete picture of what happened. I would ask that the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation meet its goal of completing a thorough investigation in 30 days,” Vos said in a statement. “The Kenosha community deserves to know the totality of the circumstances leading up to the shooting. Before passing judgement, we have to know if the shocking 20-second video clip shared with the media tells the whole story.”
Vos countered the governor’s call for a special legislative session with his own plan for a task force.
“This is not a time for political posturing or to suggest defunding law enforcement,” Vos said. “When a community is hurting, the most important thing that we can do is to listen. That is why today, I am announcing a Speaker’s task force focusing on on racial disparities, educational opportunities, public safety, and police policies and standards. We must find a path forward as a society that brings everyone together.”
Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square. Reposted with permission.