KENOSHA — Up to 2,000 National Guard members from four states will be under the command of Wisconsin's top military commander.
Maj. Gen. Paul Knapp of the Wisconsin National Guard said during a press conference with Gov. Tony Evers and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes Thursday that any Guards deploying to Kenosha and Wisconsin amid unrest will be under Knapp's command, and not federalized.
The Guards' priority, according to Knapp, will be to preserve public safety and protect protesters' ability to express free speech. Updates from the governor's office previously said the Guards' priority is to assist local law enforcement in protecting local infrastructure.
White House officials have said that as many as 2,000 Guards from across the country will be deploying amid unrest. Gov. Evers confirmed Thursday that he has requested additional National Guard troops, equipment and resources from Arizona, Michigan and Alabama under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact. Knapp said during the press conference that all three states had offered their assistance.
The press conference comes after four days of protests in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake and after a gunmen shot and killed two protesters and injured a third in Kenosha.
When asked about a Chicago Sun-Times report about Jacob Blake being handcuffed to bed report and if it concerned him, Evers replied:
"Hell yes, would have no personal understanding why that would be necessary. He's paid a horrific price already. I can't imaging why that's happening. I hope we could find a better way."
Lt. Gov. Barnes said during the conference that Jacob Blake is still alive and remains in the hospital. He added that there will be "a long road to recovery."
Barnes also called the 17-year-old who was charged Thursday with first degree attempted homicide in the shooting of three protesters - killing two - is "some sort of vigilante."
"It is nothing we should expect as normal," Barnes said.
"Everybody has to recognize the pain of the people protesting," he said. "We all deserve more, we will get through this. The only way we can do that is together."
National Guard members in Wisconsin have so far been deployed to assist local law enforcement in protecting local infrastructure amid unrest.
Gov. Evers previously stated that he had authorized a total of 500 members of the Wisconsin National Guard to be deployed to Kenosha County.
Evers said during Thursday's press conference that "it is a serious time here in Kenosha. Obviously the city has gone through a lot of trauma."
"The thing that gives me extraordinary hope is the thousands of people from the Kenosha area who are volunteering to bring water, to spruce up the Uptown area, at the end of the day when this is over the people of Kenosha are ready to make things better," the governor said.