Governor Tony Evers is defending his administration’s response to rioting and looting in Kenosha following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Evers participated in a teleconference interview with the Milwaukee Press Club via WisconsinEye on Wednesday. “We met every request the city and the county of Kenosha asked us.”
Evers said he would not change anything that he did. Blake was shot on Sunday, August 23. The governor said he first spoke with Mike House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 25, the day after the Wisconsin National Guard was activated.
“I did turn down the bringing in the Homeland Security people, ’cause I saw how poorly that played out in Portland. I didn’t think that would be a good thing,” Evers said.
The governor said he also spoke briefly with President Trump that day, and reiterated to him the National Guard was already deploying to the city.
“I talked to him for five minutes or less. He made the pitch about ‘you know we have to get the National Guard on the ground.’ I said ‘they already are, we’ve met every request.’ And he talked about how important it was in Minnesota having the National Guard. I said ‘yes we already have the National Guard in place.'”
Later on the night of the 25th, there was a shooting incident in which two protesters were killed and a third injured. A 17-year-old Illinois resident, Kyle Rittenhouse, was arrested the next day and charged with homicide.
Evers said he spoke with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows again the following day, and put him in touch with Wisconsin Adjutant General Paul Knapp to coordinate Guard personnel from other states. There were eventually 4000 Guard members deployed to Kenosha.
“I have no regrets because the only thing I said no to was Homeland Security,” Evers said. “I knew that would not work out in Kenosha because of what I saw in Portland.”
During the hour long interview, Evers responded to numerous questions from three reporters; Patrick Marley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, LaToya Dennis of WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio, and Victor Jacobo of CBS 58 Milwaukee.
Evers also defended his administration’s declaration of a public health emergency and statewide mask mandate, in order to slow the spread of coronavirus in Wisconsin.
“I feel good about it. It lasts until, I think the 28th of September, and we’ll cross that bridge when we get there, whether we extend it or not. We believe it was an absolutely legal public health emergency,” Evers said.
The public health emergency is being challenged in court, by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty.
Evers also said he wouldn’t volunteer to take an available COVID-19 vaccine right away, and that it should go to health care workers first. As to whether everyone else should eventually be required to get it: “I believe that requiring it is the right thing. I just don’t know if it’s feasible in this political environment.”
Evers expects most people will eventually get vaccinated. “I believe we’ll get it to the point where the vast, vast majority will take it.”