MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers’ incendiary tweets after a police-involved shooting of a black man in Kenosha Sunday was like lighting the fuse of a bomb, conservative lawmakers say.
Now the Democrat is calling the legislature into special session to take up a package of “policing accountability and transparency measures,” a move Republican leadership see as the latest in a long line of Evers’ political stunts.
“One hour after the announcement of the speaker’s task force, Governor Evers releases a Special Session call of the Legislature,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said in a statement. “When I spoke to Governor Evers on the phone today, I asked him to work with the Legislature in a deliberate and open process through the task force.”
“We have an opportunity to bring people together to find solutions. Instead, the governor is choosing to turn to politics again by dictating liberal policies that will only deepen the divisions in our state,” Vos added.
Jacob Blake, 29, was in serious condition Monday after he was shot multiple times while getting into his car during what Kenosha police describe as a domestic incident. Soon after a video partially showing the incident hit social media, Evers hopped on Twitter and fired off sweeping indictments. While he acknowledged he didn’t have all the details, the governor was more than ready to pass judgment.
“[W]hat we know for certain is that he [Blake] is not the first Black man or person to have been shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state or our country,” Evers wrote.
Kenosha erupted in violence — or “unrest,” as corporate media tends to define riots.
On Monday, protesters set some 50 cars on fire in a nearby car lot, burned a few city garbage trucks, and damaged several public buildings, including the public library and the Dinosaur Discovery Museum and a charter school. They also attacked police, reportedly hitting an officer in the head with a brick and knocking him down. That incident, too, was caught on video.
Evers was forced to call in the National Guard, with more protests planned for Madison.
From earlier in the night: One of the many buildings that was set on fire in Kenosha. pic.twitter.com/P6btJ2M01x
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) August 25, 2020
A person just launched a glass bottle at the line of officers, prompting them to raise their shields. More bottles (glass and plastic) are being thrown pic.twitter.com/zhVZ8miELS
— Shelby Talcott (@ShelbyTalcott) August 25, 2020
A rioter poured gasoline on a Kenosha garbage truck and set it on fire. pic.twitter.com/sjf7A6np03
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) August 25, 2020
HOLY SH*#: while interviewing this #BLM rioter in Kinosha he pulls out a real pistol and points it at my camera while explaining what we would do to cops if they rolled up on us right now
It’s been a while since I had a gun pointed at me even if it was just to make a point pic.twitter.com/hjQqO9Ccbb
— ELIJAH RIOT (@ElijahSchaffer) August 25, 2020
“I hesitate to do this, because the situation in Kenosha stands on its own, but I am extremely shocked by the content of Governor Evers’ statement last night,” state Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) said in a statement. “The best leaders attempt to diffuse situations, not escalate them. Evers’ statement was irresponsible and inflammatory. He jumped to conclusions without first having all the facts. At a time when stereotyping situations is especially risky, Evers stereotyped every police interaction with people of color — harming both.”
Members of the GOP-led legislature acknowledged that the video of the police-involved shooting, in which Blake appears to be shot in the back multiple times, is disturbing on its face. But so is Evers’ rush to judgement.
“In less than 24 hours, we have unfortunately witnessed rioting, looting and incendiary statements from both Governor Tony Evers and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes prejudging the circumstances of this officer-involved shooting,” Sen. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) said in a statement.
As long as the governor is hastily calling a special session for next week, Nass urged Republican leadership to schedule a “concurrent extraordinary session” to pass legislation limiting the Evers’ administration’s “abuses of power.”
Nass, among other lawmakers, is calling for the legislature to rescind Evers’ statewide mask mandate of Aug. 1 and to “dramatically curtail” the powers of his Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. And he is again asking that the Senate meet and vote down Palm’s appointment.
Republican lawmakers have made it clear that they will not support any “reform” legislation that targets police funding.