KENOSHA, Wis. (CBS) — In Kenosha late Thursday, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes said they are looking forward to seeing Kenosha rebuild, and to see broken systems and racial injustice taken on.
“Obviously, the city has gone through a lot of trauma over the last several days, and I had a chance to witness some of the damage that was done,” Evers said. “But the thing that gives me hope is the thousands of people from the Kenosha area who are volunteering as we speak to bring water to workers, to do great paintings, and spruce up the town area. At the end of the day when this is over, the people of Kenosha will be ready to make lives better, and they are already beginning that process.”
He said the people of Kenosha would move forward on all fronts.
“I feel very confident about where we are going, but confidence does not come from Madison or Washington, D.C. It comes from the great people who inhabit the city,” Evers said. “They understand there is a need to make sure we are in a better place racially, but they’re ready to roll up their sleeves and doing it as we speak, and I could not be more proud of that.”
Meanwhile, Barnes said it was a “nothing short of a miracle” that Jacob Blake – the man who was shot seven times in the back by a police officer on Sunday – was still alive.
“We had a moment to speak with Jacob Blake’s family. We met with leaders here in Kenosha, and I had a couple of phone calls yesterday with an organizer friend of mine. We also witnessed a few businesses, and it was important to do so. In the wake of it all, you see a community actually being built,” Barnes said. “It is out of some of the most devastating sets of circumstances that we often see communities being built more holistically, in a way that has not traditionally happened before.”
Barnes said the investigation into the Blake shooting continued, but there are some things that are clear regardless.
“We don’t need an investigation to note that this falls into a long and painful pattern of violence. This is a pattern of violence that happens against Black lives too often, and across this country. And as you all know, we saw more gun violence unfold on Tuesday night, when two protesters were tragically killed and injured by gunshots – someone that wasn’t looking to keep peace, an outside agitator; someone who came in from Illinois who was able to just walk the streets freely, like that’s something normal that we should just come to expect,” Barnes said.
With the latest deadly incident in which Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, is accused of shooting three people and killing two of them during the unrest, Barnes said Kenosha was now home to a tragic scene similar to what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 – when protester Heather Heyer, 32, was mowed down and killed by a driver during a white nationalist rally. He said society has to want to see such a thing never happen again.
Evers said he would “disinvite all of those people that are running around with long guns for no apparent reason.”
Barnes said the systems that enable racial injustice must change, and he said that can happen.
“We have come to together and rebuild those broken systems,” Barnes said. “But I do believe that we can do it. I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you today. This didn’t just happen after Jacob Blake, and it didn’t just happen George Floyd. This is ongoing. It is one of the reasons why I decided to run for office – because I believed that better was possible. I hope everybody in this room also hopes that we can do more.”
Also at the news conference, Wisconsin National Guard Maj. Gen. Paul Knapp said additional National Guard members have been sent from states such as Alabama and Arizona. But he emphasized that all guardsmen are under Wisconsin state authority rather than federal authority.