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Evers doubles Guard deployment; Trump sending federal agents

Published: Aug. 26, 2020 at 1:00 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 26, 2020 at 1:47 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Following a third straight night of violent protests in Kenosha, the most recent of which turned deadly, law enforcement officers in the city will be getting even more assistance from the National Guard as well as from federal agencies.

On Wednesday, Gov. Tony Evers doubled the number of members of the National Guard who will be deployed to Kenosha, announcing 500 soldiers will be activated. The move comes a day after another doubling, when he upped the contingent from 125 to 250 Guard members.

Additionally, Evers plans to work with other states to enlist more help from the National Guard and state patrol agencies.

The governor’s announcements come minutes after President Donald Trump tweeted federal law enforcement officers would be heading to Wisconsin, as well. The president’s action comes after Evers agreed to accept the federal assistance, he wrote.

“TODAY, I will be sending federal law enforcement and the National Guard to Kenosha, WI to restore LAW and ORDER!” the president wrote.

On Tuesday, Evers rejected help from Washington, earning a stern rebuke from Sen. Ron Johnson and Rep. Bryan Steil, whose district encompasses Kenosha. In his statement, Steil (R-1st) recounted asking President Trump for that assistance and getting his approval.

At that time, Steil says, the governor said no.

FILE: Rep. Bryan Steil (R-1st) said he received President Donald Trump's approval Tuesday to...
FILE: Rep. Bryan Steil (R-1st) said he received President Donald Trump's approval Tuesday to deploy federal troops to Wisconsin in response to recent protests.(NBC15)

Saying “the violence needs to stop now,” Steil urged Evers to reconsider his decision. He also criticized the number of Guard members deployed. In his statement, which was released prior to Evers’ announcement Wednesday, he called the 250 number “woefully insufficient.”

As did Johnson (R-WI), who, while acknowledging the presence of the soldiers isn’t a silver bullet guaranteeing peace, argued, “Anarchy and chaos will not advance justice, and must be stopped.”

FILE: Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. On Wednesday, Johnson urged Gov. Tony Evers to reconsider his...
FILE: Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. On Wednesday, Johnson urged Gov. Tony Evers to reconsider his decision to allow federal troops to be deployed to Wisconsin.(Toni Sandys/The Washington Post via AP, Pool)

Both Republicans quickly responded to Evers about-face on the issue of federal agents, saying it was “a tragedy that two people had to lose their lives” before the state accepted Washington’s help.

However, when NBC15 asked Johnson if the deaths fall on the governor, the senator answered, “No. It falls on the rioters that create the situation where that occurred. Obviously, I would’ve liked the governor to take the president up on his offer last night. Maybe we could’ve avoided that. Again, there’s no guarantees here.”

Johnson and Steil went on to say the violence in Kenosha does not help the fight for justice and “drown(s) out the voices of those protesting peacefully.

The protests in Kenosha began Sunday night after a Kenosha police officer shot a Black man, Jacob Blake, in the back multiple times.

On Tuesday night, Kenosha erupted into violent demonstrations for the third consecutive night. This time, though, the protests took a deadly turn. Two people were shot to death and another was wounded in an overnight confrontation.

A 17-year-old was arrested in Illinois in connection with the shooting.

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