National Guard members are rushing to Kenosha to help patrol city streets in the wake of rioting overnight Sunday.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers announced that 125 members will be in the city by Monday night “to help protect critical infrastructure and assist in maintaining public safety and the ability of individuals to peacefully protest.”
Evers, a Democrat, said the “limited mobilization” was ordered based on requests from local officials.
National Guard members will be focused “on supporting the needs of local first responders to protect critical infrastructure, such as utilities and fire stations, and to ensure Kenoshians are able to assemble safely,” he added in a statement released by his office.
Maj. Gen. Paul Knapp, Wisconsin’s adjutant general, said soldiers and airmen are prepared to help preserve public safety.
In a separate video announcement, Evers urged people gathering to protest to remain peaceful and wear masks because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chaos erupted in Kenosha, a town of some 100,000 on Lake Michigan south of Milwaukee, late Sunday after police officers shot Jacob Blake while responding to a 911 call.
Rioters burned a number of businesses and looted others.
Law enforcement officers in riot gear were seen Monday protecting buildings from further harm.
Kenosha County officials said both the courthouse and a nearby administration building would be closed for at least one day because of damage inflicted by rioters.
The county later declared a statement of emergency and said a curfew will begin at 8 p.m. and run through 7 a.m. Tuesday, east of I-94.
“The public needs to be off the streets for their safety,” officials said in a press release.
Democrats immediately condemned the shooting even though the video clip that circulated widely online was just 19 seconds.
“This was not an accident. This wasn’t bad police work. This felt like some sort of vendetta being taken out on a member of our community,” Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, a Democrat, said during a virtual briefing. He claimed that Blake was “trying to de-escalate” the situation.
Yet another Black American is a victim of excessive force,” Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said in a statement.
Republican President Donald Trump was being briefed before noon on the matter, the White House said.
Other officials asked the public to wait until an investigation is finished into the shooting.
“I support a full and thorough investigation into the events leading up to yesterday’s officer-involved shooting in Kenosha,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said in a statement. “While emotions are understandably running high in the Kenosha community and elsewhere, I urge any demonstrators to remain peaceful and give our justice system the opportunity to work.”
“Until that investigation is completed, we ask that you withhold prejudgment about the incident and please let the process take place,” Pete Deates, president of the Kenosha Professional Police Association, a police union, said in a statement to news outlets.
“As always, the video currently circulating does not capture all the intricacies of a highly dynamic incident,” he added.
The video shows two officers following Blake as the man reached into a vehicle before being shot.
In a brief statement, the Kenosha Police Department said officers were responding to a domestic incident.
After the shooting, officers provided immediate aid to Blake and he was taken via Flight for Life to a hospital in Milwaukee, the police said. Blake was in serious condition.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation is investigating the officer-involved shooting, with help from the Wisconsin State Patrol and the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office.
The officers involved were placed on administrative leave.
According to court records, Blake had an arrest warrant issued last month for trespassing, third-degree sexual assault, and disorderly conduct.
Evers on Monday also signed an executive order convening a special session of the state legislature on policing accountability and transparency.
Bills he wants to be passed would establish statewide use of force standards for all law enforcement agencies, create a $1 million grant program to fund community organizations, and prohibit no-knock warrants.
vers is upset that the legislature has so far refused to take up legislation dealing with the issues despite his urging.
“This is not the time for politics. I am urging Republican leadership to rise to this important moment in history, to put people before politics, and to put lives of black Wisconsinites above politics,” Evers said at the virtual briefing.
Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, a Republican, said in response that he spoke to Evers earlier in the day by phone and requested he work with lawmakers through a task force on racial disparities that Vos formed on Monday.
“We have an opportunity to bring people together to find solutions. Instead, the governor is choosing to turn to politics again by dictating liberal policies that will only deepen the divisions in our state,” he said in a statement.
But some lawmakers signaled support for Evers’ move. “The time for change is now,” Senate Minority Leader Janet Bewley, a Democrat, said in a tweet.