‘Please don’t be the reason that your sheriff needs to take action’: State sheriff’s association urges residents to protest peacefully

Wisconsin state capitol

MADISON, Wis. — The Badger State Sheriff’s Association is asking Wisconsin residents planning on protesting in the wake of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol to do so “peacefully and respectfully.”

Local law enforcement are preparing for potential armed protests at all 50 state capitols. Nate Dreckman, BSSA President and Grant County Sheriff, said in a statement that law enforcement will “protect everyone’s constitutional rights,” but “there will be consequences” for anyone who violates the law.

The BSSA is an organization comprised of sheriffs from all 72 counties in the state.

In the statement, the BSSA also called on Wisconsinites to “exercise their constitutional rights with discretion, care, and common sense in mind.”

“We will not tell you what to do, but be mindful that you may not know who you are standing next to during a protest. For that reason, you may want to stay home. Those persons may take actions that may put you in a difficult position,” the statement reads. “Law enforcement around our country is hopeful that no law enforcement action will be needed anywhere. We ask everyone to do their part to ensure that constitutional rights are protected, and it is done so in a peaceful and orderly way. Please don’t be the reason that your Sheriff needs to take action to maintain that peace and public order.”

Vic Wahl, acting police chief of the Madison Police Department, said Thursday that despite the FBI’s report of planned armed marches,  there are no specific threats to Madison.

Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney said the country needs a “period of calm” following the riot at the Capitol.

“Our great country must solve our differences in a civilized method. The violence, injuries and death following the incursion to our Nation’s Capital is repulsive to every freedom loving American and an assault on our democracy,” Mahoney said. “Our deputies and police officers will always protect your right to assemble and to air grievances, but only in a peaceful manner. The time is now for our Nation to gather in unity and peace.”

On Monday, crews began boarding up ground-floor windows at the Wisconsin State Capitol in response to the threats toward state capitols nationwide.

Gov. Tony Evers mobilized the Wisconsin National Guard on Monday to help the state’s Capitol Police if needed.

Read the BSSA’s entire statement below.

“Over the past couple of weeks, many Wisconsin residents were disappointed, shocked, and angered by either the national election results or the rioting in Washington D.C. at the Capitol.

“As Sheriffs of the State of Wisconsin, our duties include maintaining peace and public order. We acknowledge many people in our communities feel frustrated and not heard in the most recent Presidential Election. While you may want to voice your concerns and be vocal about them, we as Sheriffs ask that you do so peacefully and respectfully. We understand that being a good citizen means being involved in the operations of our government. You can do this by running for office, contacting those elected to office, and, yes, even voicing your concerns through peaceful demonstrations as protected by the first amendment.

“The Badger State Sheriffs’ Association (BSSA) is the Association of the 72 Wisconsin Sheriffs existing to support the Office of Sheriff. According to Sheriff Nate Dreckman, BSSA President, the BSSA is reaching out to each County Sheriff, asking them to respectfully request that in coming weeks and months that all citizens exercise their constitutional rights with discretion, care, and common sense in mind. While it is your right to carry and bear arms, doing so in a public fashion may lead to incidents that may likely bring scrutiny to your cause, which will draw attention away from the true cause you are there.

“‘Please remember that we, as law enforcement have a sworn duty to enforce the law. If you step outside of the law, there will be consequences; however, we will also protect everyone’s constitutional rights,’ stated Sheriff Dreckman.

“We will not tell you what to do, but be mindful that you may not know who you are standing next to during a protest. For that reason, you may want to stay home. Those persons may take actions that may put you in a difficult position. Law enforcement around our country is hopeful that no law enforcement action will be needed anywhere. We ask everyone to do their part to ensure that constitutional rights are protected, and it is done so in a peaceful and orderly way. Please don’t be the reason that your Sheriff needs to take action to maintain that peace and public order.

“Wisconsin Sheriffs are committed to keeping the peace while serving and protecting their citizens and have good relations with their county residents. Sheriffs will take appropriate actions to keep their citizens informed when known criminal activity impacts their county or a threat to their safety is present.

“As the formulation of plans for protests during this upcoming week and after continue, we ask that you use good judgment. Consider the repercussions of your actions before taking part; we only want you to be safe!”