Blake, who is black, was shot seven times from behind by white Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey on Aug. 23 after he resisted arrest and posed a threat. The incident sparked three nights of unrest that culminated with the shootings of three rioters by Kyle Rittenhouse, with evidence that he acted in self defense.
Evers called out a small number of troops from the Wisconsin National Guard early the morning of Aug. 24. The Democratic governor turned down an offer made Aug. 25 from the White House to send federal U.S. Department of Homeland Security troops.
President Donald Trump criticized Evers’s response, urging him to activate the National Guard after he had already done so.
“He made a pitch about, you know, ‘We have to get the National Guard on the ground,’” Evers said. “I said, ‘They already are. We’ve met every request.’”
A day later, after the shootings of the three rioters, two of whom died, Evers again spoke with Trump and the governor said they agreed to have the White House send other federal assistance, including officers from the FBI and U.S. Marshals.
“To say that we could have done anything different as it relates to working with the White House, I have no regrets because the only thing I said no to was Homeland Security and I knew that would not work out because of what I saw in Portland,” Evers said, referring to ongoing unrest in that Oregon city between rioters and federal officers. Riots have continued in Portland even after the presence of federal government was diminished.
During the unrest in Kenosha, an estimated $50 million in damage was caused to around 100 downtown businesses.
Evers defended his approach during a Milwaukee Press Club event where he took questions remotely from reporters.
The governor also called on Republicans who control the Legislature to “step up” and take action on criminal justice reform. Evers called a special session last week on nine policing bills, but Republicans took no action.
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.