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HomeWRN VoicesGov. Evers & Kenosha Leaders: You Failed Us

Gov. Evers & Kenosha Leaders: You Failed Us [OPINION]

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On the eve of President Trump visiting Kenosha to meet with law enforcement and survey damage after riots tore Kenosha apart, Wisconsin Gov. Evers had the stones to write a letter to the President asking him to reconsider visiting. We find this appalling.

In a letter obtained by the The Associated Press, Evers stated, “I, along with other community leaders who have reached out, are concerned about what your presence will mean for Kenosha and our state,” and “I am concerned your presence will only hinder our healing. I am concerned your presence will only delay our work to overcome division and move forward together.”

Of course Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, who has been all but absent during the riots, tweeted: “President Trump should rethink his plans and give Kenosha residents space to heal.”

Wisconsin Right Now was in Kenosha several days last week. We witnessed day after day of abhorrent leadership by Gov. Evers and Kenosha leaders. Day after day, law enforcement pushed protestors and counter protesters, many armed, out of Civic Center Park and into the neighborhoods and business district, where they were then allowed free rein to get in clashes, vandalize and burn without any push back. This failed strategy led to the mass fires, destruction and fatal shootings. Those responsible need to own their disastrous response to the violence and criminal activity that erupted in that city. The Kenosha anarchy response is a textbook case of what not to do in such a situation. Officials handed over their city to criminal lawbreakers. The failure to immediately accept federal aid created a scenario that made it impossible for the rank-and-file officers to stop the mayhem. As a result, the citizens and businesses of Kenosha suffered great losses.

It’s not just us saying this. It’s business owners and residents of all races – like David Prill and Corvette Thompson – who told us they felt government pushed rioters into their neighborhoods and then abandoned them and left them to fend for themselves. As rioters burned the building across the street and then tried to smash the door of his used car business, Prill, who called police to no avail, was left to fend criminals off himself.

“Everyone was up at the park up there protesting and then the police tear gassed everybody, which I don’t think that was a great idea at all,” said Prill. “All that did was flush everybody over here to the businesses. All these people flood us after being tear gassed and pepper sprayed and now they’re already agitated…The cops stayed back there. They just let them come all the way up here. They didn’t stop them, and they ran through, and everywhere they ran through, they messed up…The police watched it happen. They had squads going up and down the road. They saw it going on.”

“Why are you going to push that into my front yard? I have my kids up here. Why are you also going to push them into a residential area?” asked Thompson.


Gov. Evers, Kenosha Leaders: The Perfect Storm of Failure

Evers kenosha
Credit: jim piwowarczyk

We hold Gov. Evers responsible for setting the stage when he made the initial premature statement about the Kenosha police shooting of Jacob Blake, which is still under investigation: “While we do not have all of the details yet, what we know for certain is that he is not the first Black man or person to have been shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state or our country.”

According to JSOnline: White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows stated Evers turned down an offer of federal help from President Donald Trump. However, Evers spokeswoman Britt Cudaback stated, “The governor informed them that we would be increasing Wisconsin National Guard support in Kenosha and therefore would not need federal assistance in response to protests but would welcome additional federal support and resources for our state’s response to COVID-19,”

There were miscommunications and delayed requests for help. According to JSOnline: Sheriff David “Beth said on Sunday night, there was a miscommunication between Kenosha County officials over who requested assistance from Evers and it turned out no one had. Since then, he said, he’s been working with the National Guard’s leader on getting more troops.”

After the fatal shooting late Wednesday night,  Governor Evers finally accepted help from President Trump. We saw the immediate response of federal officers the next day. Arrests were made and riots were squashed before they could begin. Peace was brought back to the streets overnight. The more aggressive, but arguably less visible, law enforcement intervention paid off. People congregated in the park again, and they marched down the street, but they did so peacefully, which is an American right we wholeheartedly support.

 

Evers kenosha
Credit: jim piwowarczyk

 

We spoke to several businesses owners last week. No one from the City of Kenosha or the State of Wisconsin has been in contact with them. Federal authorities did make contact with at least one business owner we are aware of to obtain evidence of the riots.

We witnessed the utter failure of government to get a handle on the disorder for days. We think people should be held responsible for it. They include the governor, mayor, sheriff – whoever was responsible for making law enforcement stand down in the face of anarchy.

To be clear, we are not blaming the rank-and-file law enforcement officers. They performed valiantly in exceptionally tough circumstances, standing in riot gear for hours as they were called names and pelted with fireworks and bottles. We’re blaming the people who created the strategy. Or non-strategy as it appeared. They were made to essentially stand down.