Gov. Tony Evers mobilizes about 500 Wisconsin National Guard troops in Kenosha

Gov. Tony Evers mobilized about 500 Wisconsin National Guard troops to assist local law enforcement in Kenosha after officials requested assistance to help ensure public safety, he announced Monday.

The move came as Kenosha city officials were preparing for unrest while waiting for the Kenosha County district attorney to make a decision in the police shooting of Jacob Blake.  

The Monday announcement came the same day the Kenosha City Council was set to vote on a resolution put forward by Mayor John Antaramian to create an emergency declaration for the city “regarding potential civil unrest” in the event DA Michael Graveley makes a decision within the first two full weeks of January.  

The resolution cites the violent protests that took place in late August after Blake was shot by Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey on Aug. 23.

“We are continuing to work with our local partners in the Kenosha area to ensure they have the state support they need, just as we have in the past,” Evers said in a statement. “Our members of the National Guard will be on hand to support local first responders, ensure Kenoshans are able to assemble safely, and to protect critical infrastructure as necessary.”

Evers previously faced criticism from Donald Trump and other Republicans that he did not act quickly enough to address unrest that erupted in August after Blake was shot by a Kenosha police officer.

Trump has repeatedly falsely claimed that he was the one who sent the National Guard to Kenosha, at one point tweeting, “If I didn’t INSIST on having the National Guard activate and go into Kenosha, Wisconsin, there would be no Kenosha right now. Also, there would have been great death and injury.”

Evers and others have pushed back against those claims.

Evers and Maj. Gen. Paul Knapp, Wisconsin’s adjutant general, said Monday that 500 troops were mobilized in anticipation of the charging decision in the case.

“We work hand-in-hand with communities across Wisconsin to help ensure public safety, and this mobilization represents the culmination of months of planning and partnership with Kenosha,” said Knapp. “We are Citizen Soldiers and Airmen who live and work in the same communities as the citizens we serve, and we are always there for our neighbors when they need us.”

Contact Mary Spicuzza at mary.spicuzza@jrn.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MSpicuzzaMJS or Facebook at facebook.com/mary.spicuzza.