According to a Wisconsin sheriff, the streets of downtown Madison, Wisconsin aren’t safe.
Violent riots have plagued the city since a raucous crowd of 200 to 300 violent agitators descended on the Wisconsin State Capitol on Tuesday night. Over the past two days, the group has rampaged through the area with next to no pushback from local police.
The riots began after local police arrested an African American man for terrorizing patrons at a nearby restaurant. The man entered the restaurant armed with a baseball bat and used a megaphone to harass patrons and staff. A video of the incident shows the man shouting into a megaphone while placing it within inches of several individuals’ faces. The restaurant called the police, who attempted to defuse the situation. However, an altercation ensued when the police attempted to arrest the man. He struggled with officers and attempted to flee after escaping from a squad car, but officers ultimately captured him.
Shortly after the arrest, a mob gathered outside the local lockup to demand the man’s release. The group broke windows and vandalized property in the area. Rioters attacked county facilities with Molotov cocktails and overran a local condo building. They also hijacked a tow truck to aid them in their planned destruction of monuments. Police made no noticeable effort to intervene. This is aside from using pepper spray to prevent the mob from getting into the state capital building.
The violent unrest became so intense that Governor Tony Evers put the Wisconsin National Guard on notice to protect state buildings, including the capital. Strangely, Evers – a Democratic – didn’t extend the protection order to include local businesses.
Government Too Lenient?
Dane County Sheriff David Mahoney and Evers have drawn criticism for their approach to the riots. Some argue that the local Democratic government has been too soft on the rioters, which has emboldened them further. The group has been waging a terror campaign against the downtown area for over two days. However, there has been next to no police intervention. Mahoney says the rioters disbursed by the time his officers assembled on Tuesday.
A Democratic state senator who was on-scene at Tuesday’s protests was viciously assaulted after he took a picture of an assembled group of rioters. A group of eight to ten assailants attacked and left Wisconsin State Senator Tim Carpenter in a crumpled heap on the ground.
The group has also destroyed statues and monuments in the area, but the vandalism has been indiscriminate towards historical fact. In other cities, protestors targeted statues of Confederate leaders and figures they deemed as racist. However, the vandals in Madison don’t seem to be following the same logic. In one instance, the group targeted and destroyed a statue of Union Colonel Hans Christian Heg outside the statehouse.
Colonel Heg was a prominent anti-slavery activist in his time. He fought and died for the Union during the Civil War, and his statue has guarded the steps of the statehouse for nearly 100 years. Heg sacrificed his life in a brutal Civil War to help bring about an end to slavery. However, apparently, that wasn’t good enough for the group of so-called protestors assembled in Madison. Vandals tore down Heg’s statue, decapitated it, and threw it in a lake.
Local Republicans Outraged
Local Republicans felt outraged at the local government’s response to the mob. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, the Republican leader of the Wisconsin state assembly, said of the riots, “This is absolutely despicable. I am saddened at the cowardice of Madison officials to deal with these thugs.”
Dane County Sheriff David Mahoney says his office is prepared to deploy more resources to curb violence, but he also warned that the downtown area is not safe. Local authorities are attempting to negotiate with activist groups to bring about an end to the violence.