Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers released details Thursday that Michigan, Arizona and Alabama are assisting in Kenosha, providing mutual aid in the form of National Guard troops, as well as equipment. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer authorized the troop deployment.
“Michigan’s dedicated National Guardsmen and women have played a vital role to keep Michiganders safe in recent months during the pandemic, and they were a key factor in ensuring peaceful protests in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Lansing after the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor earlier this summer,” said Whitmer. “Following a request from Gov. Evers, I have authorized the use of two companies of the Michigan National Guard to assist civil authorities with public safety. I am confident that our guardsmen and women will work hard to keep our neighbors in Wisconsin safe while working to protect their First Amendment rights to peaceful assembly.”
Protests began after Jacob Blake, an African American man, was shot in the back by Kenosha police on Sunday. This is the fourth escalation of the guard in that city of 100,000 in Southwest Wisconsin.
The agreements are carried out within an Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). Evers said in a statement that troop numbers will be adjusted as needed.
Guard troops from Arizona, Michigan and Alabama joined the Wisconsin National Guard members already located in Kenosha. Evers upped that number to 500 on Wednesday. The guard first arrived on Monday, the day officials from Kenosha made the request. His Republican critics and some Kenosha officials have asked for total troop numbers closer to 2,000 in the small area. Evers, a Democrat, has been under intense political pressure, including phone calls from President Donald Trump and his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, to augment the law enforcement presence there. Curfews are in place.
In announcing the new support, Evers’ office made it clear the troops from other states are doing so under state active duty status, not under a federal status and direction — meaning they remain under their own state’s control and fall under the operational control of the adjutant general of Wisconsin while they are mobilized.
“Local officials are leading the response in Kenosha and National Guard troops are serving in a support role to assist civil authorities in preserving public safety and individuals’ ability to exercise their First Amendment rights to assemble peaceably,” said Evers’ press office.