Gov. Evers activates state National Guard in response to civil unrest in Madison

Tony Evers in front of a flag

MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Tony Evers on Wednesday afternoon authorized the Wisconsin National Guard to support police in response to civil unrest in Madison.

“The protests in Madison last night resulted in serious injury to bystanders as well as significant damage to state property,” Evers said in the release. “The Wisconsin National Guard will serve in a limited authorization meant to make sure people can exercise their First Amendment rights while ensuring the safety of members of the public and state buildings and infrastructure.”

Madison police reported damage to state buildings and a Molotov cocktail thrown into the City-County Building overnight Tuesday. Two statues were removed from outside of the Wisconsin State Capitol. A state senator also alleged he was assaulted by protesters while taking a video and had to lock himself in his Capitol office for safety, and a motorist said he was beaten and his vehicle damaged by demonstrators.

In a news release, Evers said he ordered members of the Wisconsin National Guard into state active duty to support to local law enforcement and first responders.

According to state statute, any members called to active duty may only be used to provide support to local law enforcement and to protect critical infrastructure and cultural institutions necessary for the well-being of the community, and to provide support to first responders such as the Madison Fire Department.

The release from the governor’s office said “the National Guard may not be used to impede the ability of people to peacefully protest or impede the ability of the media to report on this situation.”

Elements of the Wisconsin National Guard’s Quick Reaction Force –troops trained to respond to state requests for emergency assistance on short notice–  mobilized to state active duty Wednesday in response to a request for assistance from authorities in Dane County, the release said.

Evers had announced earlier Wednesday that he was prepared to activate the Wisconsin National Guard to protect state buildings and infrastructure.