During Tuesday night’s protests in response to the arrest of a Black activist, protesters tore down statues, confronted a state senator and destroyed property around the State Capitol.
Roughly 300 protesters and vehicles marched and blocked traffic near Dane County Jail on Tuesday evening, where Devonere Johnson was held after his arrest earlier that day, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. The Madison Police Department violently arrested Johnson after he entered Cooper’s Tavern while speaking into a megaphone and holding a bat.
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MPD reported protesters removed the Lady Forward and Hans Christian Heg statues from Capitol grounds during the night’s protests. In a press release, Gov. Tony Evers said both statues have since been recovered.
According to the Wisconsin State Journal, protester Ebony Anderson-Carter said the statues were removed because they created a “false representation of what this city is” and the destruction caused during the protest was in response to city officials not listening to activists’ demands for change.
Hans Christian Heg was a famed abolitionist, and Forward represented progress and devotion in Wisconsin, according to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Madison resident and activist Brian Ward said on Facebook that while Heg was anti-slavery, the statue’s description makes no reference to that and instead it positions him as a Norwegian settler who fought in the Civil War. Heg also participated in the 1849 California mining craze, which resulted in the death of thousands of Indigenous people.
When it comes to the Forward statue, Ward said Forward represents the liberation of white women, in a time when people of color were notably excluded.
A group of protesters broke windows at the front of the Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership, according to Wisconsin State Journal. Protesters also set a small fire in the City County Building, County Executive Joe Parisi said in a press release.
Protesters attempted to break into the Capitol, but were held back by Capitol police, Evers said. MPD said pepper spray was used to keep protesters from entering the Capitol building.
Protesters confronted State Sen. Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee, who was taking pictures while on his way to the Capitol while working late. After Carpenter was seen taking photos of protesters, some confronted the senator and punched him, he said on Twitter.
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Evers said in a press release the cost of the property damage caused is still being assessed. Additionally, Evers said he may activate the Wisconsin National Guard to protect state property for future protests, which he followed through with as of 4 p.m. Wednesday, according to Channel 3000.
“Any single act of injustice against one person is less justice for all of us, and the people who committed these acts of violence will be held accountable,” Evers said
Protesters dispersed around 2:30 a.m. according to the Wisconsin State Journal.