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Gov. Evers, state lawmakers react to attack on Sen. Carpenter, damage in Madison

MADISON — Protesters toppled statues, vandalized buildings and are accused of assaulting a Democratic state senator on video at the State Capitol Tuesday night after daylong protests turned violent.

Both Gov. Tony Evers and Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway condemned the violence and destruction Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the protest group issued a list of demands.

State officials are reacting to the attack on State Sen. Tim Carpenter as well as the damage caused in the Capitol. Read their complete statements below.

Gov. Tony Evers (D)

“What happened in Madison last night presented a stark contrast from the peaceful protests we have seen across our state in recent weeks, including significant damage to state property. I want to be clear: violence against any person—whether in the middle of the street in broad daylight, at home trying to sleep, going for a run, or happening upon a protest as was the case last night—is wrong. It should never be tolerated. Any single act of injustice against one person is less justice for all of us, and the people who committed these acts of violence will be held accountable. My thoughts are with Sen. Carpenter who was among the individuals attacked last night and wish him a quick recovery.

We also cannot allow ourselves to forget the reason why these protests began: because of the murder of George Floyd, of Breonna Taylor, of the many Black lives taken before them, and because racism and structural inequality still pervade this country. Our cause and our purpose must continue to be the pursuit of the promise of an equitable, just, and fair state and country, and we cannot delay delivering on these promises any longer.

We are assessing the damage to state property, including the State Capitol building, the surrounding area, and the Tommy G. Thompson Center. Both “Forward” and Col. Hans Christian Heg statues have been recovered. The Capitol Police Department responded to attempts to breach the State Capitol and were able to prevent additional penetration of the building. Additional resources from the Wisconsin State Patrol were also dispatched to provide support to the Madison Police Department.

We are prepared to activate the Wisconsin National Guard to protect state buildings and infrastructure and are continuing to work with local law enforcement to understand their response to last night’s events and their plan to respond to similar events in the future.”

State Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine)

“Forgive my language, but I don’t care about being “senatorial” anymore. The time for platitudes is over. This is (expletive).

“The role of police is to protect life first, property second. Last night in Madison, Madison police did neither. An innocent bystander, a state senator who has largely stood with the BLM movement, was attacked for watching and taking a picture. I am praying Tim will be okay.

“The statue of a Civil War hero who literally gave his life freeing slaves was beheaded. A statue representing women’s rights was torn down. There was destruction at the Capitol and an attempt to start the City/County building of the most liberal city and county in Wisconsin on fire.

“This isn’t about protesting anymore. This is about mindless violence and destruction. And Madison city officials are letting it happen. Someone in Madison city government should be held accountable, because what happened last night shouldn’t be allowed to happen in any city, much less Wisconsin’s capital city. Arrests need to be made.

“It is clear Madison is incapable of protecting either life or property. They clearly don’t have control of their streets. Whether that is because of inability or incompetent leadership is unknown. Governor Evers MUST step up and call out the National Guard and send the message that violence WILL NOT be tolerated. Let Madison police protect life if they are still allowed. The National Guard can protect state property.

“I also call on Governor Evers to work with the Legislature and Supreme Court to ensure that the Capitol will be safe for everyone who works in the building when it reopens in July. Because what occurred last night cannot occur again – and definitely not in the building.”

State Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison)

“It is extremely difficult to see the damage and destruction done to our community. I myself hold the Capitol building in the highest regard, and the Lady Forward statue is a special fortress and symbol of strength and unity to myself and many others. I certainly do not condone the violence against those who were harmed last night, including my colleague Senator Tim Carpenter, and I wish both him and others who were harmed a quick recovery.

“I know that this unrest, occurring across our community, state, and nation, is valid. Right now, there is deep-rooted and justified anger within our community, and throughout the globe. I too am angry. I am angry about the senseless attack on Senator Carpenter. I am angry about police brutality. I am angry about racist individuals and the systems of racism that continue to pervade our nation. However, my anger is insignificant compared to that of those who have faced racial injustices for their entire life— compared to those who have lost their loved ones at the hands of police violence.

“We cannot forget the reason these protests arose in the first place; the protests are for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the numerous other Black lives that have been lost to injustice and systemic racism. We must come together and do more to address racial disparities and inequities against the Black community and other communities of color. Everyone deserves to feel safe where they live, where they can achieve their dreams, where they can grow and raise a family. This is a fundamental Wisconsin value.

“We cannot continue to delay action. Change is long overdue, and we must take meaningful and comprehensive steps here in the State Legislature. I call on Republican leadership to take action on the pieces of legislation that the Legislative Black Caucus & Governor Evers have called for, so we can take steps towards rectifying these injustices and working toward healing our community and state.

“Black lives matter, and we must not lose sight of the conversation that deserves to be heard. Statues can be replaced. People cannot.”

State Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills)

“The violence and destruction that took place last night in Madison are unacceptable. I am praying for a speedy recovery for my colleague Senator Tim Carpenter.

“and time again our Governor has been slow to act, and the failed leadership from the east wing continues to become more and more transparent. The Governor needs to step up and lead. He needs to use the resources available to him to make sure every citizen feels safe. Events like last night around the Capitol cannot be tolerated anywhere in our state.”

State Sen. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield)

“Over the last month, we have witnessed blind destructive rage take control of the Democratic Party.  Last night, a violent mob had free reign over the City of Madison as they vandalized the capitol for a second time, tore down a statue of an abolitionist who fought to end slavery, assaulted a Democratic state senator, attempted to burn a county building and more. My office and many others on the ground floor of the Capitol had windows broken as rioters tried to gain entry and cause even more destruction.

“While the Governor slept in his estate, the statehouse was under siege. We need a leader, not an apologist. Governor Evers and Mayor Rhodes-Conway have enabled this destructive and violent behavior through consistent inaction and appeasement. What will it take for Governor Evers to see that these are not protests, they are violent riots? He cannot keep talking out of both sides of his mouth.

“These criminals need to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, and be ordered to pay restitution to repair the damage. For those local governments seeking to reduce police funding to appease these violent actions, I will be looking at reductions in state aid to their budgets.

“Based on media reports, it also appears that it took nearly two and half hours for the Madison police to respond and disperse the crowd. This is simply unacceptable. If the Madison Police were told to stand down while the destruction was happening, I will also be advocating for a reduction in state aid to cover the costs of the damage.

“The leaders of these riots are demanding the police be defunded and officers to be fired before the destruction and violence ends. I will always support the right to peacefully protest, but this group has shown no intention of remaining peaceful, and enough is enough. Governor Evers needs to call in the National Guard today and take back control!”

State Rep. Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh)

“In recent weeks, we have seen people across the country raising their voice to peacefully speak out against injustice in our society. What happened last night at the Capitol goes against those efforts and does harm to our state. Violently attacking a state senator and damaging state property does not, in any way, help to make positive change in our communities. And defacing the Capitol, where the people of Wisconsin send representatives to make laws on their behalf, harms our democracy. I, like so many Wisconsinites, woke up angry and frustrated with these lawless acts.

“These actions cannot be tolerated, and I am confident state and local officials will work to ensure that we do not witness more incidents of violence and destruction.”

Senator Duey Stroebel (R-Cedarburg)

“The actions of the mob in Madison last night make it crystal clear that these protests and riots are not about one radical group’s motive to change our society and state, but about undermining the fabric of our society and further dividing our nation.  Whether you agree with Black Lives Matter or not, last night’s violence is not a way to accomplish those goals.  From tearing down a statue of Union Civil War Hero who died fighting the Confederacy and the institution of slavery, to assaulting a liberal State Senator, it could not be more apparent that the agenda of the mob is the destruction of our state.”

“The actions of the mob in Madison should give pause to all Wisconsinites, but especially those enabling this behavior with their tacit support.  Nonviolent protestors must ask themselves if continuing to associate with the mob’s destructive behavior and lawlessness is what is best for our state and communities.”

“Additionally, the response from Governor Evers has been truly embarrassing.  As has so often been the case, he is clearly in over his head and has no idea what he is doing.  A group of legislators sent Governor Evers a letter on June 5 asking him to take action to protect public property and he has clearly failed to do so.”

“It is imperative that decisive action is taken to end this lawless behavior.  If local police cannot enforce the law, or are not permitted to by the leftist Madison Mayor, it is imperative that Governor Evers mobilize the National Guard.”

“There is more we can do to ensure that the American Dream is within reach for all Americans, but the Orwellian double-speak is confusing matters.  We must call things what they are.  People destroying property and assaulting people on the streets is a lawless mob, not peaceful protestors.  Wisconsinites of all political stripes should agree that mobs are making matters worse, not better.”

State Rep. Barbara Dittrich (R-Oconomowoc)

“Once again, WI saw historic violence and destruction perpetrated by rioters, descending on the State Capitol last night and the early morning hours today. However, this is not the first time we have seen violence here, even this month. On June 5th, I led my colleagues in writing to Gov. Evers urging him to protect our State Capitol and its surrounding monuments. The governor never responded to our letter, dismissing the National Guard members from their service in Madison the very next day.

“This time, in the late hours of Tuesday night, I watched in utter dismay and abject horror as a violent mob toppled the “Forward” statue on the west side of the Capitol grounds and the monument of Colonel Hans Christian Heg, Norwegian immigrant, and anti-slavery Civil War regiment leader. After plunging the Heg statue into Lake Monona and dragging Lady Forward down State Street with chains, radical leftists went on to violently assault Sen. Tim Carpenter simply for taking a picture of the chaos at a distance. Shortly thereafter, the senator appear to lose consciousness and an ambulance was called to his aid.

“All of these terrorizing crimes occurred for nearly 2 hours while Governor Evers and Madison Mayor Rhodes-Conway did nothing! When protesters began smashing fixtures on the Capitol grounds and attempted to break into the Capitol, law enforcement was finally allowed to show up in riot gear. A stand-off ensued for nearly 3 hours with no arrests. The situation ended with the same police officers backing away down the street, leaving the scene.

“This unfathomable display of weak leadership falls squarely at the feet of Gov. Evers and Madison’s mayor. Workers do not feel safe going to and from their jobs in the downtown area, with good reason as evidenced in the beating of Senator Carpenter. Wisconsinites are wondering where their governor is when his presence and response are most needed. And taxpayers now find themselves financially on the hook as a result of more violence and desecration of their state treasures.

“I call on this governor to step forward in strength and defense of all Wisconsinites, not just a small group of angry vandals. He must unequivocally condemn this activity and vow to better protect “The People’s House,” our State Capitol, and its surrounding monuments or step aside. I further urge State Attorney General Josh Kaul to prosecute these crimes to the fullest extent of the law if the mayor and governor refuse to do so. At a time of fear and turmoil, Wisconsin does not need weak, withering leadership but strength and clarity. Wisconsin deserves better than the utter chaos resulting from relinquishing control to total lawlessness assaulting our State Capitol. Citizens are demanding that their government do what it was elected to do — protect the state from complete anarchy.”

State Rep. Rob Hutton (R-Brookfield)

“Last night we again witnessed the effects of violence and wanton destruction in the heart of our State’s Capitol. Wisconsin has endured weeks of such violence, destroying businesses and endangering our citizenry. This must stop. I call upon Governor Evers and Mayor Rhodes-Conway to take appropriate actions to ensure public order and safety.”

“A recent survey of businesses on State Street in Madison revealed that at least 25% of these businesses would not return. This is not acceptable. The people of Wisconsin deserve to be safe and secure and know that they are not at the mercy of roving mobs intent on wreaking havoc on our neighborhoods. Our appreciation continues to go out to those first responders who are doing their part to protect all law abiding citizens of Wisconsin.”

State Representative Cindi Duchow (R-Delafield)

“The events that occurred last night in Madison were disgraceful and should be condemned entirely. The violence and vandalism that occurred during this riot crossed a line and go beyond an individual’s First Amendment rights to peacefully protest. Governor Evers needs to step up and be the leader Wisconsinites expect and deserve. This governor has continued to choose inaction and silence which further enables destruction and violence.

“Last night, two statues that represent the best of Wisconsin were torn down. The first was of Colonel Hans Christian Heg, a staunch abolitionist who served and died in support of the Union Army during the Civil War. The second was Wisconsin’s famous Forward statue, which serves as a representation of Wisconsin’s commitment to progress.

“Additionally, a State Senator was physically assaulted by rioters while he was outside the Capitol documenting the destruction. This sort of violence must not be tolerated. We must continue to protect our capitol building and those who work in it.

“I am calling on Governor Evers to take decisive action to protect the safety and property of those in our capital city. Governor Evers must mobilize the National Guard to assist local and Capitol police who have been unable to curb the destruction that Madison has seen for the past several weeks.”

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