Evers prepared to activate National Guard after night of unrest

State senator attacked, statues toppled in Madison
Published: Jun. 24, 2020 at 5:36 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers says his administration is prepared to activate the Wisconsin National Guard to protect state buildings after statues were toppled in Madison and buildings were damaged.

Evers says his administration is assessing damage to state property, the Capitol building and the Tommy G. Thompson Center.

“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. [Tim] Carpenter who was among the individuals attacked last night and wish him a quick recovery," reads the statement from Evers.

"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."

Madison Police say the demonstrators toppled the Lady Forward statue outside the statehouse and then toppled the Hans Christian Heg statue at the King Street approach to the building Tuesday night. The Hans Christian Heg statue was tossed into a lake.

Hans Christian Heg statue brought down

The Hans Christian Heg statue, honoring a Norwegian-American who helped raise a regiment to fight for the North in the Civil War, was toppled along with the Forward statue late Tuesday night.

Posted by NBC15 Madison on Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Action 2 News partner station NBC 15 reports the Lady Forward statue outside the State Capitol Building fell at about 10:30 p.m. The report states that protesters gathered around the statue while others wrapped a harness around it and pulled it down.

A short time later, protesters took down the Hans Christian Heg statue near the statehouse.

Gov. Evers says both statues have been recovered.

Police state that windows were broken in several buildings, including the City County Building. Officers say some demonstrators attempted to force entry into the State Capitol Building.

Police say "OC spray", also known as pepper spray, was used to prevent people from entering the building.

Evers says the Lady Forward and Heg statues have been recovered.

"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," says Evers.

State Sen. Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee) says he was "assaulted" and punched and kicked in the head, neck and ribs. In a tweet, Carpenter stated that "8-10 people" attacked him.

Wisconsin Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) overnight called on the governor to deploy the Wisconsin National Guard to "protect the State Capitol" and those who have business there Wednesday.

Republican legislative leaders, including Steineke and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, toured the damage Wednesday and held a news conference.

“No police presence when the Capitol was being vandalized, no police presence when statues were being taken down, no police presence when a sitting Democratic state senator was being assaulted. This is a failure of leadership at all levels in the City of Madison and it has to end,” said Rep. Steineke.

Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) said he woke up "frustrated and angry" about the situation in Madison.

“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," says Hintz. “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.”

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) called the situation in Madison "destructive and disrespectful."

NBC 15 reports there had been protests throughout the day in the city. Demonstrators gathered outside the Dane County Jail Tuesday to protest the arrest of 28-year-old Devonere Johnson outside Coopers Tavern, 20 W. Mifflin St.

Cell phone video released by Madison Police shows Johnson, a Black man, following an unidentified white man into the restaurant. Johnson has a bullhorn and says to the man, "admit that you're racist." The other man replies, "Sorry, you're a racist."

Johnson states that he would not be in the restaurant if the other man "wasn't a racist."

Johnson is carrying a baseball bat.

Johnson proceeds to make statements about Jesus not being white through the bullhorn inside the restaurant and outside the restaurant.

The video shows someone calling for a squad car.

Madison Police say Johnson was walking away from the tavern when police attempted to arrest him. Madison Police say he resisted arrest and was able to get out of a squad care before being tackled by police.

Madison Police say about 200-to-300 people moved through the downtown area Tuesday and things "escalated" from there.

Hans Christian Heg was the commander of the 15th Wisconsin Infantry during the Civil War, according to Wisconsin History. He was killed in the battle of Chickamauga.

The Norway-born Heg was against slavery and active in abolition efforts.

The statue was erected outside the Capitol in 1926. Click here for more information.

The Forward statute was placed at the Capitol in 1865. The sculpture was intended to represent Wisconsin qualities of “devotion and progress.” The statue was the work of Menasha-born Jean Pond Miner. Click here for more information.