Saying enough is enough, U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Minocqua) called Wednesday for Gov. Tony Evers to resign if he could not or would not regain control of the streets of the state capital, after a night of violence and vandalism in Madison.
On Tuesday night, rioters vandalized the capitol building, defaced and tore down historic statues, and assaulted a state senator, Milwaukee Democrat Tim Carpenter.
Tiffany said the governor has ignored an out-of-control and dangerous situation for too long and was in fact enabling the lawbreaking to continue.
"Americans are alarmed and disgusted by what has now become nearly a month of sustained lawlessness, bedlam, rioting, and violence," Tiffany said. "Radical extremists and their enablers - including Gov. Evers - continue to refer to these outrageous mob tactics as 'protest.' They are not. Property damage, destruction, and physical assault are not legitimate forms of political discourse. They are criminal acts."
Tiffany said decent people are fed up.
"Gov. Evers has ignored this crisis for weeks," he said. "He has disregarded clear warning signs and repeated incidents of looting, mayhem, and intimidation. He has stood idly by as the state capitol was damaged, statues and monuments were defaced and destroyed, and State Street mobbed by looters and vandals."
Tiffany said Evers has demonstrated he is unwilling to prevent unrelenting attacks on the people's safety, property, and way of life.
"His silence is deafening, and his inaction is unacceptable," he said. "If he cannot or will not regain control of the streets, he should resign immediately. Enough is enough."
For his part, Evers said violence against people would not be tolerated. He did not make the same pledge about property, though he said he was prepared to activate the Wisconsin National Guard to protect state buildings and infrastructure.
"What happened in Madison last night presented a stark contrast from the peaceful protests we have seen across our state in recent weeks, including significant damage to state property," Evers said. "I want to be clear: violence against any person - whether in the middle of the street in broad daylight, at home trying to sleep, going for a run, or happening upon a protest as was the case last night - is wrong. It should never be tolerated."
Evers said any single act of injustice against one person was less justice for all, and that the people who committed the violence will be held accountable.
"My thoughts are with Sen. Carpenter who was among the individuals attacked last night and wish him a quick recovery," he said.
But Evers also made clear that his foremost cause and purpose was the pursuit of social justice.
"We also cannot allow ourselves to forget the reason why these protests began: because of the murder of George Floyd, of Breonna Taylor, of the many black lives taken before them, and because racism and structural inequality still pervade this country," he said. "Our cause and our purpose must continue to be the pursuit of the promise of an equitable, just, and fair state and country, and we cannot delay delivering on these promises any longer."
On Twitter, Carpenter said he been assaulted and beat up: "Punched/kicked in the head, neck, ribs. Maybe concussion, socked in left eye is little blurry, sore neck & ribs. 8-10 people attacked me. Innocent people are going to get killed. Capitol locked -stuck in office."
State Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) echoed Tiffany's sentiments that enough was enough, though he stopped short of calling for the governor to resign if he could not control the situation.
But Fitzgerald did say the governor could stop the violence and needed to do so immediately.
"Gov. Evers has all of the tools at his disposal to stop this," Fitzgerald said. "He commands the state patrol. He commands the capitol police. He commands the National Guard. The governor must step up and immediately put an end to this violence. He cannot allow this to continue."
Fitzgerald recalled that, during Act 10 protests in 2011, tens of thousands of protestors gathered and Gov. Scott Walker used the state patrol, game wardens, and other local law enforcement officers to maintain peace.
"He never even had to mobilize the Wisconsin National Guard," the senator said. "This governor has all of those tools available to him as well, and he hasn't figured out how to stop these violent riots. The mayor of Madison and the Dane County sheriff need to stop hiding and use local police forces to better protect the seat of government. Liberal leaders in Madison have the ability to put a stop to this. They must end this senseless destruction."
Senate Democratic leader Janet Bewley (D-Mason) said the unrest across the nation was justified but she said the Tuesday violence in Madison was not.
"The unrest we have seen in Wisconsin and across the nation is the consequence of intense, concentrated and justified anger over systemic injustice," Bewley said. "For the most part, they have been peaceful. Last night they were not, and what happened was not acceptable. As the governor said, an act of injustice against one person is less justice for us all. Violence, and hatred have never led to justice, and they won't now."
Bewley blamed Republicans for the unrest and said the GOP could have prevented the riot.
"The Republicans who control the Legislature have refused to act to address the systemic racism that threatens the fabric of our society; they won't even acknowledge it," she said. "They have the power to protect the rights of people of color who are suffering, yet they do nothing."
But Tiffany said mob attacks on the state's and nation's history and institutions have nothing to do with equality or police brutality.
"They are a vicious and illegal assault on the foundations of our democratic institutions and our free and open society, and public officials who refuse to stand up against those seeking to destabilize and destroy these institutions should resign from their positions of public trust," he said.
The northern Wisconsin congressman said the attacks have been personal for him, as they have for many Wisconsinites.
"During my time in the Legislature I often walked past these iconic statues and monuments dedicated to our state's heroes, stopping to read the inscriptions and reflect on their importance to the values that have shaped our state," Tiffany said. "Hans Christian Heg was an immigrant committed to the abolitionist cause who fought to defend the Union, end slavery and advance the cause of civil rights. 'Forward' commemorates the noble cause of women's suffrage, which Wisconsin was the first state to ratify more than a century ago. They are monuments to the righteous struggles of our forebearers, and part of our shared heritage."
The statues torn down were of Wisconsin's motto "Forward" and of Col. Hans Christian Heg, an anti-slavery immigrant who died in the Civil War in the Union Army.
His statue was decapitated and thrown into a lake, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Richard Moore is the author of the forthcoming "Storyfinding: From the Journey to the Story" and can be reached at richardmoorebooks.com.
Posted: Thursday, June 25, 2020
Article comment by:
Way to go Tom!!!! First you and your friends limit the Governor’s powers before he even takes office---and then you complain about his lack of action. An interesting way for you to attempt to cover up your contribution to the mess we are in. I wonder what other acts of silliness you will demonstrate for the Grandstand audience.
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