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“This cannot happen again” – Gov. Evers commits to putting an end to violent protests

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are calling on law enforcement to put an end to the violence and destruction after a protest resulted in a state senator being attacked, firebombs thrown into buildings and property damage.

Governor Tony Evers tells 27 News he will do everything in his powers to make sure the violence that occurred Tuesday in Madison won’t happen again. 

“High level of frustration, this cannot happen again,” said Evers. “People are going to get arrested and people are going to get hurt, I mean, Senator Tim Carpenter got the crap beat out of him and that's unacceptable," said Evers.

Evers authorized the Wisconsin National Guard to assist local law enforcement to protect state buildings and infrastructure after Republicans criticized Evers and Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway for not doing enough to stop the destruction.

“We have gone from peaceful protests all around the country to rampaging on state street where nothing was done rampaging now at the capitol where it seems like nothing is being done, it makes me mad,” said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.

Evers disputed the Republican leader’s comment and instead remained adamant things will be different going forward when law enforcement responds to violent protests.

When asked if Evers supports mass arrests, he tells 27 News that “doesn’t necessarily have to happen.”

“I think the police know how to best to do it but I think we have to get them more engaged to make sure this doesn't happen again,” he said.

The protest took a turn Tuesday after a black organizer was arrested downtown Madison after he was captured on a cell phone video walking into a restaurant with a baseball ball and bullhorn.

Organizers sparked outraged over how Madison Police handled the situation seen in police footage attempting to arrest him, pulling him to the ground. 

Evers said he understands the frustration but pleaded for protesters to channel it in a better way than violence. 

“If the people who did it think this advances their causes of social justice in the state they are sadly mistaken. It has nothing to do with that.”

POLICE REFORM

Republicans and Democrats remain at odds over proposals to reform the criminal justice system. On Tuesday, GOP leaders said they don’t have a timeline to return to the capitol to vote on police reform bills.

“It’s not a quick process,” said Vos. “I am optimistic we can take the next several months listening to people around the state, law enforcement, and listen to those who are protesting peacefully.”

Vos said he had a conference call with African American pastors around the state to talk about instilling confidence in police departments and holding “bad cops” accountable.

“If there’s a bad cop, which I think there are relatively few in the system, but when they break the law they need to go to prison, they need to be prosecuted.”

Last week, Evers released a series of proposals on policing which include banning chokehold and standard for use of force.

The governor stopped short of calling a special session but both sides of the aisle said they remain confident they can find common ground.

Emilee Fannon

Capital Bureau Chief

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