KENOSHA, Wis. - Reaction to the fatal shooting of two people and wounding of another amid protests in Kenosha is generating a flood of reaction. Below is a look at the statements received by FOX6 News in the hours since the gunfire.
Gov. Tony Evers
“My heart breaks for the families and loved ones of the two individuals who lost their lives and the individual who was injured last night in Kenosha. We as a state are mourning this tragedy. Kathy and I join the people of Wisconsin in offering our condolences to these individuals, their families, and the Kenosha community.
"I want to be very clear: we should not tolerate violence against any person. I’m grateful there has already been swift action to arrest one person involved. The individual or individuals whose actions resulted in this tragic loss of life must be held accountable.
"A senseless tragedy like this cannot happen again. I again ask those who choose to exercise their First Amendment rights please do so peacefully and safely, as so many did last night. I also ask the individuals who are not there to exercise those rights to please stay home and let local first responders, law enforcement, and members of the Wisconsin National Guard do their jobs.
"We must turn from violence and remember that any single act of injustice against one person is less justice for us all. We cannot let the hateful actions of a few designed to create chaos distract us from our pursuit for a more fair, equitable, and accountable state and country for Jacob Blake and the many others who deserve justice. We must work to find strength in each other and our communities to rebuild and move our state forward, together.”
Attorney General Josh Kaul
“The violence and destruction that took place in Kenosha last night was despicable. While the two people who were killed and the person who was injured by gunfire have not yet been identified, we are thinking of their destroyed futures and their friends and families that must live with this overwhelming grief.
Kenosha residents deserve the opportunity to grieve, come together, peacefully protest, call for change, and heal. The heavily armed vigilantes, arsonists, and other opportunists who have come to Kenosha to attempt to spur chaos have interfered with that and caused drastic harm to people. If those engaging in violence and destruction of property believe they are furthering some broader goal, they are wrong. They should leave Kenosha.
Times like this call for our leaders to unify people. We must come together, in good faith, to work toward positive change. Sowing division can be deadly, and we must condemn those—especially those at the highest level of government—who seek to do so.
While those who seek to divide people may have the biggest megaphones and attract the most attention, they do not speak for the vast majority of us who seek greater unity, common ground, and justice.”
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R)
“It is heartbreaking that the violence in Kenosha has now escalated to include the loss of human life. Although it will not guarantee peace, Governor Evers should reconsider his refusal to accept President Trump’s offer to send more personnel to restore order.
“It is now three days since Jacob Blake was shot. I have repeatedly urged peace, and I renew that call today. Anarchy and chaos will not advance justice, and must be stopped.”
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D)
“The vandalism, armed militia, gun violence and fatal shootings in Kenosha are not advancing the cause of racial justice in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Elected officials at the state and federal level must answer the call of peaceful protests and take action to bring about the change we need.
“I support Governor Evers’ approach to providing more National Guard support for local law enforcement to help provide safety for the community and I stand with the courage, grace and wisdom of Jacob Blake’s mother, Julia Jackson, in her call for healing and peace. She has shown us the way forward. Systemic racism has plagued our state and country for far too long and we all need to work together in a united way to confront it by moving racial justice forward in Wisconsin and America.”
National Urban League and Wisconsin Urban League Affiliates
“The brutal and senseless murder of two protestors and the shooting of a third Tuesday night in Kenosha, is abhorrent to the rule of law in our great state and should outrage and sadden every Wisconsinite. We ask all to join us in prayers for those who were murdered and injured and for continued prayers for Jacob Blake, the man shot by Kenosha police, who may be paralyzed for life.
“We appreciate the cooperation of the Kenosha police during the peaceful protests prior to curfew. We demand that the Kenosha police continue to take appropriate measures to make sure that those who protest in Kenosha are safe from the actions of rogue individuals – reportedly from so-called “militias” – who are infiltrating the peaceful protests. We are also calling for peaceful protests and for all protests to end by the curfew imposed by Kenosha police.
“Let’s not let these violent ‘militias’ hijack our pursuit of justice. Last night shows the threat of these “militias” is a clear and present danger to those who protest. We are jointly calling for Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul to investigate these groups and to take appropriate legal action to prevent the senseless murders of more Wisconsin citizens.
“We also call on the Wisconsin Legislature, when it meets August 31 to consider a police reform bill, to pass legislation outlawing these “militias” and imposing legal penalties on those who continue to belong to these groups.
“Join us in praying for Wisconsin, for those killed and injured, and for those who protect and serve those exercising their constitutional right to peacefully assemble and seek justice.”
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett
“Recent events in Kenosha continue to be disturbing.
“I condemn the police shooting of Jacob Blake without any visible justification. I condemn the violence that undermines peaceful protests and destroys family supporting jobs. And, I condemn armed vigilantes who usurp the role of law enforcement and create more violence.
Dr. Keith Posley, superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools, and Larry Miller, president of the Milwaukee Board of School Directors
“Change is essential, and peaceful and thoughtful action is the path to lasting changes.”
"On behalf of Milwaukee Public Schools, we extend our deepest thoughts and prayers to Mr. Jacob Blake, his family, friends, and the entire Kenosha community. Once again, we are tired and overwhelmed by the brutal and senseless shooting of another Black man by the people sworn to serve and protect.
"These continuous instances of injustice to members of our local community and communities nationwide must stop. Our families, staff, and communities, especially our young people, are going through what seems like one of the toughest times of our lives. The COVID-19 pandemic, school closure and reopening, and the recurring of these racist and unjust acts are traumatic and unsettling.
"In times like this, it will take the efforts of all of us to move forward. We need compassion, healing, and justice to be restored in the lives of our children.
"We need more than awareness. We need immediate change.
State Sen. LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee)
“I woke up this morning sick to my stomach, and angry that more life has been lost and injuries sustained while Republicans sit idle. This is what it looks like when my Republican colleagues fail to do their job, and when they choose politics over people’s lives by refusing to enact legislation that is readily available simply because it was written by ‘liberals.’
“Our cities are on fire because of the systemic racism built into the very systems that are supposed to preserve and protect us. Yet, when these sinful misdeeds are inflicted upon Black and brown communities, my Republican colleagues blatantly look the other way. People of color are asked to ‘exhale’ or ‘wait for an investigation’ or participate in an empty task force where those in control of the Legislature will choose to ignore the recommendations.
“Jacob Blake is paralyzed from seven gunshot wounds to the back, and those officers sworn to serve and protect were heard on video thanking the very militia who might be responsible for shooting three people last night, two of which are deceased.
“The question for us, Wisconsin, is when are we going to make Republicans do their jobs, or do we continue to sit idly by and watch this state burn to the (expletive) ground?”
State Rep. Barbara Dittrich (R-Oconomowoc)
“Since the start of the riots sparked by the George Floyd incident earlier this summer, I have been hard at work, speaking with community members, law enforcement, and fellow legislators to begin healing the fractures and rebuilding public trust.
“Such an intense summer of racial division and riotous violence requires prudence and steady discernment on how to proceed from every side. Sadly, that is not what we have been receiving from Wisconsin’s executive branch. Tony Evers and Mandela Barnes have condemned law enforcement involved in Sunday’s tragic incident involving Jacob Blake while fully admitting they do not yet have all of the facts.
“Due to Gov. Evers and Lt. Gov. Barnes’ fueling of hatred and woeful inaction, the City of Kenosha looks like a war zone. Tuesday night, August 25th, three citizens were shot in the streets, two of whom ultimately lost their lives. This is wholly unacceptable treatment of this serious issue. Even Jacob Blake’s own family has called for peace since Day 1 of this incident, something sadly missing from Wisconsin’s executive branch.
“As a result of this anarchy, violence, and destruction, I call on Gov. Evers to immediately do the following: 1) Honor Kenosha’s request by providing the 1,500 troop reinforcements they have requested to restore order in the community; 2) Contact the president and accept the federal assistance offered on Tuesday, August 25th; 3) Use some of the remaining federal CARES Act dollars to purchase police body cameras, thereby restoring some safety to a community where people are putting them at undue risk of contracting COVID-19 with their rioting.
“Going forward, I would further urge the executive branch along with legislators to have a wider, more productive conversation on addressing racial fractures rather than politicizing policing and insisting on only one approach. I have volunteered to serve on an Assembly task force addressing such issues formed by Speaker Vos. Wisconsin deserves a peaceable, unifying approach rather than the continued violence and destruction.”
Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Ben Wikler
“We woke up this morning to the heartbreaking news of more tragedy in Kenosha. Online videos show a young man firing his gun into a crowd of protesters, killing two and injuring one. We mourn their senseless deaths, and send our prayers to their families.
“This is Trump’s America. Last night’s violence is the inevitable result of President Trump’s racist, disturbing rhetoric that has defined his time in office. Yesterday, an emboldened Kenosha militia issued a call to “take up arms.” Last night, an out-of-state gunman, Kyle Rittenhouse, did exactly that. Two human beings now lay dead.
Trump and his allies have fear-mongered andstoked hate against those standing in opposition to racism and injustice, and conflated peaceful protests with rioters. Trump egged on armed right-wing militias through calls to “liberate” states during stay-at-home orders; Trump’s Republican National Convention has speakers spreading conspiracy theories about the destruction of the suburbs; and here in Wisconsin, Republicans like Robin Vos blame Gov. Evers for protesters’ deaths while ignoring the rise of far-right hate. This is irresponsible rhetoric that has consequences.
“We can’t let Trump and his allies further divide our nation and pit us against one another. We can’t let more blood be shed. Trump depends on a broken America to win re-election in November and continue his chaotic rule, and our nation simply can’t survive another four years of his hate and vitriol.”
Tiffany Belcher, a volunteer with the Wisconsin chapter of Moms Demand Action
“We’re grieving with the families of those who were shot and with the entire Kenosha community,” said Tiffany D. Belcher, a volunteer with the Wisconsin chapter of Moms Demand Action. “While details are still emerging, we know armed vigilantes at protests only increase tensions and are more likely to incite violence. During this national reckoning with violence by police and the white supremacy that fuels it, protesters and the freedom to assemble must be protected at all costs.”
State Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) - in letter to Gov. Evers
"Two people are dead. Another was shot. This violence could have been prevented.
"Last night, the Kenosha County Board of Supervisors asked for an additional 1,500 National Guard members for Kenosha tonight. I second that request and implore you to fulfill it. Without massive resources, violence will only escalate.
To the extent the Wisconsin National Guard is unable to fulfill the request of 1,500 additional troops tonight, I beg you to reconsider and accept President Trump’s offer of additional troops.
"If your spokesperson’s statement about your refusal of federal assistance is accurate, it is disgusting and insulting. Asking for resources for COVID, but refusing assistance for Kenosha is unconscionable and a slap in the face to every resident of Kenosha. When your house is on fire, you do not refuse your neighbor’s hose to help douse the flames because you are also hungry.
"Two people are dead tonight in Kenosha because of Wisconsin’s inability to control the riots. That is more than have died of COVID in Kenosha County in 2 weeks. The economic damage of these riots greatly exceeds the economic damage of the last 5 months. Prioritizing COVID assistance over security assistance is the definition of misplaced priorities.
"Wisconsin’s fourth largest city is in crisis. Its very existence is in danger. We cannot let it devolve into Portland, Seattle, or Minneapolis. Please leave the mansion- see the devastation for yourself. Please provide 1,500 additional National Guard troops tonight.
"If you are unable, please accept the President’s offer. I assure you, it was made in good faith by people who care about Kenosha. "
Joint statement by U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil (R) and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R)
“It is a tragedy that two people had to lose their lives before Gov. Evers was willing to set aside politics and accept President Trump’s help to restore order in Kenosha. Violence and chaos like we’ve seen the last three nights do nothing to advance justice, and they drown out the voices of those protesting peacefully. Going forward, our focus should be on healing – for Jacob Blake, for the lives turned upside down in the rioting, and for the community of Kenosha.”
Wisconsin Conservation Voters
"Wisconsin Conservative Voters calls on Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald to convene the legislature to take up policies that begin to address the public health crisis of systemic racism and police brutality.
"The shooting of Jacob Blake, unfortunately, is this system working as designed. It is not an anomaly or an exception. We see the manifestations of systemic racism in police violence, but also in the disproportionate suffering in communities of color due to environmental degradation and climate change. Over the past two years, legislative leaders have brushed off other public health problems – like clean drinking water – with task forces and empty promises. Their inaction is leading to lives lost.
"It is time they stop treating this life-or-death issue as something that can be put off or “studied” without any meaningful action. Communities of color in Wisconsin have been clear about what needs to be done. Our state leaders need to listen and act.
"We encourage everyone to speak out about systemic racism and urge Speaker Robin Vos and Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald to come to the table and take their first steps on that difficult path, so that Wisconsin can begin to progress toward a more equitable, safer, and healthier future."
State Senator Duey Stroebel (R–Cedarburg)
“The situation in Kenosha has gone from bad to worse, and Governor Evers has continued to fail in recognizing the severity of the situation. Some of my legislative colleagues asked the Governor to deploy a larger contingent of the National Guard and to provide other resources to ensure law and order was maintained, but he refused. Today, leaders in Kenosha County are asking for 1,500 members of the National Guard to be deployed. Governor Evers just doubled down on his mistake by not filling the full request from local leaders – the hard-working citizens of Kenosha and the surrounding area deserve better from him as they face down rioters.”
“If Governor Evers is unable to provide the resources needed to protect the citizens of Kenosha, prevent the destruction of property, and support local first responders, he should gladly accept the offer of federal assistance that has been extended. Two are now dead because of the chaos in Kenosha, I shudder to think how high the total could reach without enough support. Our state’s citizens should not continue suffering because of Governor Evers’ inability to lead.”
Chris Ott, executive director of the ACLU of Wisconsin
“We offer condolences for the two people who lost their lives last night, and the person who was severely injured, after they were apparently shot by an anti-Black Lives Matter vigilante during protests in Downtown Kenosha following the horrific police shooting of Jacob Blake. No one should lose their lives — whether at the hands of law enforcement or armed militias — for expressing their outrage, disappointment, exhaustion, or vision for a better future. Law enforcement must treat protesters and counterprotesters equally, regardless of viewpoint.
“Law enforcement should play no role in First Amendment contexts, unless it is to protect and enable the exercise of our constitutional and human rights to protest and to gather with others to make our voices heard.
“When law enforcement enters a community dressed in riot gear, spraying groups of protesters with tear gas, it engenders more instability and further traumatizes people who are already grieving the unjust police shooting of yet another Black man.
The militarized response we’ve seen so far has exacerbated the situation in Kenosha, instead of deescalating it. President Trump's threat today to send federal law enforcement to Kenosha is misguided and will only make matters worse. We don’t need more police, we need to end police violence.
“Kenosha doesn’t need to see a repeat of Portland, where federal agents wreaked havoc and violently trampled on the constitutional rights of protesters. If the Administration wants to take action, it can end the Department of Defense 1033 program which gives military weapons to local police and suggests it’s okay to treat communities like war zones and their residents like enemies.”
State Rep. Rob Hutton (R-Brookfield)
"Over the weekend we witnessed videos of a shooting by Kenosha Police Officers, and our hearts go out to all who were involved in this tragic situation. We pray for the recovery of Jacob Blake and comfort for his family. We also grieve for those families who lost loved ones last night, and pray for those families, as well as the officers who were directly involved with this incident.
"Since that initial event, riots have engulfed the beautiful city of Kenosha, with widespread and wanton destruction. Though we do not know the full details of either situation, we do know that tonight, families across the state are grieving. We support those who demand answers via peaceful demonstrations, while condemning the actions of those (many who platoon in from other cities and states) who use a tragic event to bring down personal harm and economic devastation upon innocent victims of that community; a devastation many will never recover from.
"When it comes to such events, leaders in the community must seek to defuse the emotions and anger of the moment, and bring clarity to a path forward. Unfortunately, in this and other situations across southeast Wisconsin, State and local leaders have often made matters worse by not denouncing the violence and destruction, and rationalizing the violence instead of calling for peace.
"Residents in my district and around the State fear that weak responses from these elected leaders will only motivate those rioters to continue in Kenosha, and beyond. This is not a time for political rhetoric or half-hearted action. This is a time for resolute leaders to demonstrate peace, order, and civility by their words and by their actions. Only then can our system of Due Process function, and work towards ensuring justice for all."
State Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee)
"There is a cost to legislative obstruction. In Wisconsin, this cost can be measured in dead bodies. The current count stands at 1,102. How did we get to this point? A brief timeline:
"March 12th: Governor Tony Evers declares a public health emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, not a single Wisconsinite has died from the virus.
"April 7th: Despite our Governor’s attempts to shift to an all-mail election and give more time for ballots to come in, thanks to Republican lawsuits, Wisconsin holds its Spring Election as scheduled. Speaker Vos, wearing a full Hazmat suit, declares it is “incredibly safe to go out.” To date, 92 people have died.
"April 15th: Despite mounting cases and desperate pleas from across our state, the Republican-controlled legislature waits until this day to pass legislation in response to the pandemic. It is viewed by many as wildly insufficient. 182 have died.
"May 13th: Bowing to Republican lawsuits once again, the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturns Safer at Home. Taverns in many parts of the state begin to reopen immediately. In the absence of a statewide policy, local governments scramble to figure out what to do. 421 people have died.
"June 19th: In response to widespread protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Joel Acevedo in Milwaukee, Governor Evers calls for the legislature to meet and consider a package of 9 policing reforms aimed at racial equity. The Republican-controlled legislature refuses. With no plan to replace Safer at Home, cases and deaths of COVID-19 continue to skyrocket. 730 people have died.
"August 1st: After heavy public pressure from around 17,000 petitioners, and in the wake of a tremendous surge in COVID-19 cases, Governor Evers enacts a statewide mask mandate. Republicans immediately threaten to call the legislature in to overturn it, but ultimately choose not to do so. 947 people have died.
"August 25th, Daytime: After two nights of protests in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha police, which left Mr. Blake paralyzed from the waist down, Governor Evers calls a special session of the legislature, to take place the following Monday, August 31st. Speaker Vos dismisses this call, and announces the formation of a task force instead. To date, 1,094 Wisconsinites have died of the coronavirus.
"August 25th, Nighttime: A 17-year-old gunman from Illinois opens fire on protesters, hitting at least three people. Moments before, law enforcement tosses a water bottle to the armed youth, and words of appreciation are exchanged. It is all caught on video. The gunman surrenders, but police let him go, despite the warnings from bystanders of what he had done. The shooter is eventually arrested in Illinois. 2 more people are dead, this time by vigilante gun violence.
"Every step of the way, Republicans in the State Legislature, led by Speaker Robin Vos, have refused calls from the Governor, legislative Democrats, and their own constituents to do something, anything at all, to address COVID-19 and the racial equity crisis in policing. Each time they have resisted, refused, and even sued to undo actions taken by the Governor without them. As of August 26th, 1,102 Wisconsinites are dead in the wake of legislative obstruction, and no task force on Earth can bring them back.
"It is time for the legislature to meet and finally begin to address the crises facing our state. As has become abundantly clear these past few months, our neighbors’ lives are very much at stake. No amount of policy will fix everything, but doing nothing is not an option."
DNC Chair Tom Perez
“Our nation is hurting. We need leadership that will heal our wounds, not continue to pour salt on them. Peaceful protest against police violence should not be met with more violence. And yet, that’s exactly what the president called for after the death of George Floyd. Now we’re seeing the fatal results of his words once more. The right to protest prejudice is an American principle. Attacking protestors is not. Our hearts go out to the families of those we lost in Kenosha and those injured in Pennsylvania. And we continue to pray for the recovery of Jacob Blake. Our nation will not heal through fear, division, and violence. We will heal through justice, unity, and action.”
Southern Poverty Law Center President and CEO Margaret Huang
"It’s heartbreaking to see the events of the last few days in Kenosha. While law enforcement stood idly by, an emboldened vigilante took two lives and injured one. It is inexplicable that the police failed to protect demonstrators, and it raises serious questions about the role of law enforcement in this tragedy. We call for a full and comprehensive investigation into the role and responsibility of law enforcement in these crimes, and the police must be held accountable for their failure to protect demonstrators in their communities.“Across the country, we continue to witness protests against systemic racism, extrajudicial killings of unarmed Black people and the use of excessive force by law enforcement against Black and brown individuals. Now is the time for elected leaders to take immediate action to reimagine the policing system in our country. We must become a more just and equitable country for all.”