The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com.
You’ve all probably seen the airwaves and your local papers blanketed with ads about what happened in Kenosha in the summer of 2020. Jacob Blake’s life was changed forever, two lives were lost, and many businesses and families in our community had to heal and rebuild. Instead of focusing on bringing people together, Republicans are trying to mislead Wisconsinites for their own political gain and divide our community. As Kenosha County Executive during that time, I’m here to set the record straight. I was there.
Governor Evers has been very supportive to our community and I think everyone needs to know that. The state of Wisconsin fulfilled every local request for support, including having Wisconsin National Guard troops on the ground within hours of Kenosha County’s request. The state authorized additional law enforcement support the first night of unrest, and Gov. Evers ordered up the Wisconsin National Guard within 11 hours. He then continued to expand the Guard’s presence each day as requested.
Even before the county’s request for National Guard support, Wisconsin Emergency Management sent assistance from neighboring agencies, including the Wisconsin State Patrol, the same night Jacob Blake was shot. Hours later, Kenosha County requested that Gov. Evers authorize the Wisconsin National Guard and he quickly fulfilled that request. After that Gov. Evers continued to deliver additional resources as they were requested from local agencies, which is how the process is designed to work.
Kenosha leaders from both political parties praised the governor for his quick and measured response to the situation. Sheriff David Beth said, “The state has been fantastic as far as sending resources, from the very first minute that we asked them.” And Mayor John Antaramian echoed his comments, saying when asked if the Guard should’ve responded more quickly last summer ‘I don’t know that they could’ve,’ adding that every request for more Guardsmen was met.
Former President Donald Trump’s claims on this have been found false consistently, because they’re not based in reality. The National Guard is not activated or directed by the federal government. Despite what he may believe, every National Guard member deployed to Kenosha was activated by state governments.
In addition to sending hundreds of Wisconsin National Guard members, Gov. Evers worked with other states to secure additional National Guard members and resources to support local law enforcement. I was there.
Do we all wish this would have all gone faster, that thousands of troops could have arrived immediately to prevent the fatalities, injuries and damage to property caused by the rioting? Of course. But you can’t push an “Easy” button and have the citizen soldiers of the National Guard deploy immediately. That’s not how it works.
In fact, the system worked exactly how it’s designed to function, and Gov. Evers answered every call with great dispatch and did everything he could within his powers to assist Kenosha County in its time of greatest need. Again, I was there.
But Gov. Evers’ response didn’t stop once the cameras and crowds went away. Since then, Gov. Evers has been working to help small businesses repair and rebuild. He has seen firsthand how resilient our community is and invested millions to help us move forward.
It’s disappointing that the Republicans are attempting to attack the governor and turn this into a 2022 campaign issue, when we should be pulling together toward correcting the factors that brought about the situation in the first place.
To the Republicans trying to use our community to further your own political agenda, we’ve had enough of the partisan politics and the lies. I hope all our leaders can focus on investing in our local communities and working together to move Kenosha and our great state of Wisconsin forward.
– Kreuser served as Kenosha county executive from 2008 to his retirement in 2022.