Wisconsin governor Tony Evers mobilized the National Guard on Monday to provide support to law enforcement in Kenosha, ahead of an expected decision on whether to press charges a police shooting.
A Kenosha officer shot Jacob Blake, an African American man, in August while responding to a domestic violence call. Authorities had issued an arrest warrant for Blake for suspected third-degree sexual assault. A white officer shot Blake several times during the attempted arrest, and Blake was left paralyzed from the waist down.
Video of Blake’s shooting quickly went viral and was followed by a week of riots in Kenosha, during which rioters destroyed dozens of businesses in the city. The riots came in the wake of widespread civil unrest after the police killing of George Floyd, an African American resident of Minneapolis.
The Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office is expected to announce a decision on whether to charge the officer who shot Blake sometime within last two weeks of January. Governor Evers ordered the National Guard to provide 500 service members to assist Kenosha law enforcement ahead of the district attorney’s decision.
“We are continuing to work with our local partners in the Kenosha area to ensure they have the state support they need, just as we have in the past,” Evers told reporters on Monday. “Our members of the National Guard will be on hand to support local first responders, ensure Kenoshans are able to assemble safely, and to protect critical infrastructure as necessary.”
Kenosha mayor John Antaramian and police chief Daniel Miskinis said in a joint statement that the city was preparing for possible unrest.
“Mayor Antaramian has been informed that the decision is likely to be announced within the first two weeks of January and is working with Chief Miskinis and other partners to protect peaceful demonstration and to guard against unlawful activity,” the two said. “Our responsibility to public safety is paramount, and we are preparing for a number of possible public demonstration and safety efforts.”