KENOSHA — After three nights of unrest in Kenosha, city and county officials announced they were significantly increasing the federal law enforcement presence in anticipation of more violence.
Governor Tony Evers originally turned down an offer from President Trump to send additional assistance to Kenosha, but on Wednesday he agreed.
TMJ4 News learned from White House officials that thousands of U.S. National Guard members were on their way to Kenosha. The governor also said they were increasing the number of Wisconsin National Guard members to 500 Wednesday night.
Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth addressed the unrest for the first time Wednesday. He said they’re doing all they can to protect the City of Kenosha and the people who live there, even if that means using federal resources.
“We’ll take whatever resources we can get to take care of this,” Beth said. “Every day we get better. In Kenosha we’re not accustomed to riots.”
In response to violence the past three nights, law enforcement dispersed crowds with everything from flash bangs to sirens, pepper spray, tear gas and rubber bullets, but none of that stopped some people from setting local businesses on fire Monday night, or even firing gunshots, resulting in the deaths of two people Tuesday night.
Kenosha County Executive Jim Kreuser and Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis said they respect peaceful protests, but won’t accept the violence.
“Make no mistake that if you’re coming out to our county to do harm or damage to our community you will be arrested and prosecuted,” Kreuser said.
“When the line crosses from stating one’s opinions to taking violent actions and hurting people, damaging property and generally unruly behavior, that must stop. Not only is it bad for the community, it detracts from the message,” Miskinis said.
The unrest all happened with the assistance of hundreds of law enforcement members from agencies across the state, and the help of DNR wardens, state guard members, the FBI, ATF, and U.S. Marshals, with the presence increasing each night.
“Seeing these gentlemen work behind the scenes, there is not a hitch in the giddy-up,” Kreuser said.
By having more federal resources in Kenosha, law enforcement hopes they can curb the violence and keep the community safe.
“We care about what happens here and throughout the state, and we are here to support the local authorities in bringing this to a peaceful conclusion,” Maj. Gen. Paul Knapp of the Wisconsin National Guard said.
“We are not going to put up with what we saw Monday night, we’re not going to,” Beth said. “Does that mean we’re going to stop it all? It depends on the numbers that come. We’re not going to be able to stop it all, but we’re going to be assertive in helping to protect the City of Kenosha and Kenosha County.”
Beth also announced a new curfew from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. He said it will be in effect at least every night through Monday morning. By making the curfew earlier, Beth hopes they can disperse the crowds while it’s still light out.
On Sunday during the first night of protests, the city had about $300,000 of damage to the campus that includes the Public Safety Building and the courthouse. City workers installed a steel fence around the area on Tuesday to try to prevent more destruction as well as the inmates inside the jail.