Violent riots in Madison, Wisconsin Tuesday night culminated in the assault of a state senator and the destruction of a statue of Hans Christian Heg, an immigrant, early prison reformer, and leader of the abolition movement.
At the start of the Civil War, Heg swiftly volunteered to fight for his adopted country. Heg led his men, all made up of volunteer immigrants, to numerous victories before he was killed by a Confederate snipers bullet. To remember his sacrifice, a statue of him was built by a fellow immigrant, overseeing his home state of Wisconsin’s capital.
Tuesday night, the statue was torn down from his watch post by hundreds of rioters who had seized control of heavy equipment. After being dragged through the streets, his head was torn off, and what was left was sunk into a lake.
It was hardly an isolated incident. The rioters also tore down a monument to progress for women personified, threw a Molotov Cocktail into a government building, and assaulted local state Senator Tom Carpenter, a Democrat, for taking a picture of them.
I took this pic- it got me assaulted & beat up. Punched/kicked in the head, neck, ribs. Maybe concussion, socked in left eye is little blurry, sore neck & ribs. 8-10 people attacked me. Innocent people are going to get killed. Capitol locked- stuck in office.Stop violence nowPlz! pic.twitter.com/Zw2hdfYG66
— Tim Carpenter (@TimCarpenterMKE) June 24, 2020
The events marks the transition of rioters attacking individuals rather than symbolic targets.
Later that night, an attempt was made on the capital building, where Carpenter was sheltering after the attack. Rioters attempted to storm the statehouse, prompting a response from law enforcement. The attackers eventually gave up and scattered.
The violence was triggered by the arrest of activist Devonere Johnson, who has been charged with disorderly conduct while armed, resisting arrest, and attempted escape. Protests, then riots, began shortly after. The situation escalated to the point that Democratic Gov. Evers, an outspoken supporter of BLM, activated the National Guard.
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.
— Governor Tony Evers (@GovEvers) June 24, 2020
Republicans in state government have agreed that the action was needed, with some stating it should have been done long ago. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos today stated he was “saddened” by officials inability to act, and called on the governor to “finally do something” about the violence according to local media.
Democratic Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway of Madison has yet to make any statements about the riots. It is currently unknown exactly how much damage was inflicted.