Jeramey Jannene

Evers Pulls National Guard From Milwaukee

The 125 troops serving as a backup force during the protests have been withdrawn.

By - Jun 9th, 2020 04:32 pm
Members of the Wisconsin National Guard protect the Milwaukee Police Department's District Five Station. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Members of the Wisconsin National Guard protect the Milwaukee Police Department’s District Five Station. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The 125 members of the Wisconsin National Guard that were deployed to Milwaukee to augment the Milwaukee Public Department and Milwaukee County Sheriff‘s Office have been called back. The soldiers served as a backup force during their mission.

The guard was deployed after the night of May 29th when the Milwaukee Police Department said it was “under siege” at its station at 300 W. Locust St. A total of 43 businesses were looted that night.

Milwaukee has seen an uptick in vandalism and looting in the past two weeks after the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. But the police chief acknowledged there wasn’t a direct connection between those engaged in protest marches and those committing the crimes.

“Those are our local problem people, if there was no reason to loot and riot they would still be involved in criminal activity,” said police chief Alfonso Morales in a radio interview on June 2nd. He expressed particular dismay that pharmacies and grocery stores were being attacked. “We are not saying economically challenged neighborhoods are going after the police, that’s not the case here.”

The guard members and their armored vehicles had been a very visible presence at many police stations, particularly District 5 on W. Locust St.

Governor Tony Evers and local leaders thanked the guard for its support and praised the marchers in a statement announcing the withdrawal.

“This is a watershed moment for our nation, one that requires everyone being willing to come together. I am encouraged by the peaceful protesters who continue to make their voices heard and demand change, and I am grateful for the citizen soldiers of the Wisconsin National Guard whose important mission helped keep our communities safe,” said Evers.

“What we have seen in our community over the past several weeks is a call for radical, much needed change,” said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley. “I thank the organizers on the ground who remained peaceful while exercising their right to assemble and make their voices heard. I also recognize the citizen soldiers of the Wisconsin National Guard for their cooperation in addressing the rapidly evolving events over the past week. As we move forward, Milwaukee County is determined to examine its own policies and practices to advance racial equity and justice. The time for action is now.”

“I am appreciative of the role the Wisconsin National Guard played in Milwaukee. We were grateful to have their assistance in protecting the rights of people to petition their government and assemble peacefully,” said Mayor Tom Barrett.

Barrett previously said that the guard’s deployment in a backup capacity allowed more police officers to be out in the community addressing issues.

Almost every night since the deployment began, a Wisconsin National Guard Black Hawk helicopter has circled the city following the protest marches, a tactic that has drawn the ire of the Common Council.

Over 1,500 troops were mobilized across the state, including in Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha and Racine.

The citizen soldiers will still have a presence in Milwaukee, but for a completely different purpose. Guard members staff the two community COVID-19 testing sites in the city and also assist with other COVID-19 related needs.

The statement by Evers said the public safety mission by the guard members concluded on June 8th.

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More about the 2020 Racial Justice Protests

Read more about 2020 Racial Justice Protests here

Categories: Public Safety

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