MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers apparently stopped playing politics long enough Wednesday to take up an offer by the Trump administration to send federal agents into riot-ravaged Kenosha. Or at least up the Wisconsin Army National Guard presence there.
It wasn’t without begging from Kenosha County Board members and lawmakers.
“My team just got off the phone with Governor Evers who agreed to accept federal assistance,” President Trump tweeted Wednesday. “TODAY, I will be sending federal law enforcement and the National Guard to Kenosha, WI to restore LAW and ORDER!”
Lawmakers have urged the governor to stop pandering to his political left base and do more to restore order. They’ve been asking, Do Evers and his radical left team hate President Donald Trump so much they are willing to watch Kenosha burn?
The scenes of wanton violence are stunning — and they are everywhere on social media. In one video, rioters brutally beat a 71-year-old man while he was trying to stop them from burning down a mattress store. The man reportedly suffered a broken jaw and lacerations to his head.
On Tuesday evening, two nights after the officer-involved shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old black man, set off a powder keg of hostility in Wisconsin’s fourth-largest city, events turned deadly.
“Two people are dead. Another was shot. This violence could have been prevented,” wrote State Sen. Van Wanggaard Wednesday in a letter to the governor.
“Last night, the Kenosha County Board of Supervisors asked for an additional 1,500 National Guard members for Kenosha tonight. I second that request and implore you to fulfill it. Without massive resources, violence will only escalate,” the senator added.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, appearing Tuesday on Fox News’s "Tucker Carlson Tonight," said Evers had turned down additional federal assistance from the Department of Homeland Security. The agents would have helped multiple law enforcement agencies battling to bring back order to portions of a city that have descended into mob rule.
“We have National Guard standing by that if the general for the National Guard needs additional help, we’re there to do it,” Meadows said. “But today that request was denied by the governor.”
U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, a Republican who represents Kenosha as part of the 1st Congressional District, said Evers’ begrudging call up of 250 National Guard members to Kenosha Monday was “woefully insufficient.”
“Yesterday, I asked the President for additional assistance. He agreed. The offer was rejected by Governor Evers. Again, I call on the Governor to accept the President’s offer of assistance, supported by Kenosha officials, which includes National Guard from other states and federal law enforcement officers. The violence needs to stop now,” Steil said in a statement.
The Kenosha County Board of Supervisors also sent Evers a letter begging for help.
“Our county is under attack,” the letter from Board Vice-Chairwoman Monica Yuhas and Chairman John O’Day states. “Our businesses are under attack. Our homes are under attack. Our local law enforcement agencies need additional support to help bring civility back to our community.”
Kenosha County asked for 1,500 Guardsmen; Evers gave them 500. The Democrat continued to play games, though, downplaying any involvement by Trump and the feds and instead saying he was working with other states to bring in additional law enforcement support.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) blamed Trump for “making matters worse.”
“But the encouragement that the president, the acquiescence if not more than that, that he gives to vigilantes coming in to make matters worse in these situations is something the president should be quelling rather than encouraging,” she told reporters Wednesday. “We all respect peaceful demonstrations. We don’t want them to be exploited by outside groups be they vigilantes and the rest to stir it on.”
Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, of Antioch, Ill., was arrested Wednesday on an arrest warrant charging him with first-degree intentional homicide, according to police. Rittenhouse was picked up in Antioch, about 20 miles south of Kenosha, in connection with the Kenosha shootings.
Video from Tuesday night’s riots shows an individual being attacked by a group of people. The person then gets up, pulls out a long gun and shoots into the crowd, knocking over at least one unidentified male.
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said the violence in Kenosha is “heartbreaking” and asserted it was all so unnecessary.
“It is a tragedy that two people had to lose their lives before Gov. Evers was willing to set aside politics and accept President Trump’s help to restore order in Kenosha,” the Oshkosh Republican said in a statement. “Violence and chaos like we’ve seen the last three nights do nothing to advance justice, and they drown out the voices of those protesting peacefully. Going forward, our focus should be on healing – for Jacob Blake, for the lives turned upside down in the rioting, and for the community of Kenosha.”