Wisconsin Governor Calls in National Guard to Respond to Unrest in Milwaukee Following Floyd Death

Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers called in the National Guard Saturday to help Milwaukee law enforcement officers respond to protests over George Floyd's police-involved death in Minneapolis.

Evers authorized the Wisconsin National Guard to assist Milwaukee police this weekend, releasing a statement expressing concern that peaceful protests over Floyd's death had been infiltrated by violent agitators.

He said he called in the National Guard at the request of Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales, Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, and Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley.

Protests erupted nationwide as ex-Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Michael Chauvin was charged Friday with the murder of Floyd.

A Milwaukee police officer was shot early Saturday morning near 2nd and Locust streets during a protest near the Milwaukee Police Department's 5th District building, WISN-TV reported. He was treated for minor injuries and is expected to survive.

"Gov. Tony Evers today authorized the Wisconsin National Guard to support the Milwaukee community's response to agitators that have disrupted peaceful protests following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer," read the statement issued by the Wisconsin governor Saturday afternoon.

"It is critical that people are able to peacefully express their anger and frustration about systemic racism and injustice, in Milwaukee, the State of Wisconsin, and our nation. This limited authorization of citizen soldiers from the Wisconsin National Guard will help protect people who are exercising their First Amendment rights and ensure the safety of the public," the governor's statement continued.

Newsweek reached out to Evers' Madison office Saturday afternoon for additional remarks about calling in the National Guard.

The Wisconsin governor had responded earlier to Floyd's death, urging residents of all racial backgrounds to "see the trauma, fear, and exhaustion of being Black" in America.

"Earlier this week, another Black life was extinguished before our eyes. His name was George Floyd. He was 46. His life matters and his family deserves justice. There was no empathy or humanity in his death," Evers tweeted Friday. "This was not an anomaly. We hear the echo of the words of Eric Garner. We relive the pain of the death of Black Wisconsinites like Dontre Hamilton, Ernest Lacy, and Sylville Smith. Frustration and anger about systemic injustices are always justified."

The Milwaukee Police Department issued a statement Saturday vowing to "continue to protect our residents' right to assemble and freedom of speech; however, we will arrest those who victimize people and vandalize property."

Although the Milwaukee protests were largely non-violent, looting occurred at a Walgreens and other local businesses, according to police.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, responding to protests over Floyd's death murder in his own state, warned assembling protesters that violent agitators have infused themselves into their demonstrations. The former deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee said such agitators are seeking to undermine the credibility of the anti-police brutality protests taking place nationwide.

"The people who are trying to tarnish the reputation of the noble protest for justice are out there trying to mix in with the crowd so people just say, 'Oh all those protesters are bad their cause can't be just, they're just out there causing trouble.' We know that's not what's happening," Ellison said during a Saturday afternoon press conference. "Some evil elements are literally infusing themselves with the protests to destroy and cause arson so the whole community will have a low opinion of the protest."

wisconsin milwaukee george floyd protests
Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers called in the National Guard Saturday to help Milwaukee law enforcement officers respond to protests in the wake of Minneapolis man George Floyd's alleged murder at the hands of police officers. BRYAN R. SMITH / Contributor/Getty Images