Kenosha National Guard Timeline
Following the Jacob Blake Shooting
Evening of Sunday August 23rd:
Jacob Blake was shot in the back multiple times by Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey. The shooting was captured on video by a bystander and shared widely on social media that evening. Citizen unrest followed.
The county declared an emergency curfew starting at 10:15 p.m. City police requested the support of the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department and the Wisconsin State Patrol, who responded to clear the scene. Most protesters dispersed after law enforcement shot rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowds.
Monday August 24th:
3:00 am: Kenosha County Emergency Management, Mayor John Antaramian and County Executive Jim Kreuser requested National Guard assistance from Gov. Evers at 3:00 am on August 24th, just hours after the shooting. Gov. Evers contacted Maj. Gen. Paul Knapp, the Adjutant General of the Wisconsin National Guard, at 3:09 am and verbally activated the Wisconsin National Guard to respond to Kenosha. National Guard troops cannot be ordered unless the governor is formally requested by a municipality and they can only be authorized by the Governor.
Maj. General Knapp activated the Guard's Quick Response Force upon receiving the governor's verbal approval in the pre-dawn hours of Monday, April 24th, just hours after the shooting. Gov. Evers followed that verbal authorization with written authorization the next day.
The Guard’s Quick Response Force arrived in Kenosha on the 24th, less than 24 hours after the police shooting.
The 125 soldiers in the Quick Reaction Force are part of a larger National Guard Reaction Force of 500 members who must respond within 12 hours of being ordered up. Each state has a National Guard Reaction Force to respond to civil unrest and emergencies such as filling sandbags and health and welfare checks during flooding.
In Wisconsin, the reaction force rotates among National Guard units every few years with specialized training to handle urban protests.
Once the Guard has been authorized, it became Maj. General Knapp's decision to determine how many troops to deploy throughout the duration of the unrest. His decision can be informed by the local law enforcement, in conjunction with the input from the emergency manager as to the seriousness of the situation.
Maj. General Knapp can only send in as many troops as are available and who have the relevant skills and training for the mission. Even though there are over 7700 National Guard troops in Wisconsin, there is only 1 battalion (equivalent to three companies) of troops who are trained for riot support. Those troops operated under the direction of local law enforcement.
Around 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Evers made his public announcement that he had authorized the Guard to support local law enforcement in Kenosha, with a focus on protecting critical infrastructure and maintaining public safety during the protests.
In addition to the National Guard, state troopers, DNR agents, and other local law enforcement agencies in Wisconsin passed along resources and personnel, some sending up to one third of their personnel.
Fires and clashes with law enforcement continued late into the night after the city’s 8 pm curfew, leaving extensive damage to the city.
Tuesday August 25th
After being informed by Maj. General Knapp of the need for additional help, Gov. Evers requested troops from neighboring states. His request was granted. He also issued a public statement denouncing the “damage and destruction. “There remains a line between peaceful assembly and what we saw last night that put individuals, families, and businesses in danger,”
In addition, Gov. Evers also declared a State of Emergency with Executive Order #86 following protests in communities across Wisconsin. Executive Order #86 proclaimed a state of emergency in Wisconsin, directed state agencies to continue assisting the state response, and calls to state active duty additional elements of the Wisconsin National Guard to support first responders and protect critical infrastructure and cultural institutions.
Governor Evers spoke with President Trump on the afternoon of August 25th. President Trump offered U.S. Marshalls, ATF agents, and FBI agents to assist in Kenosha, which Gov. Evers accepted. Trump also offered Homeland Security troops which Gov. Evers declined as additional National Guard troops from other states were already arranged. Those National Guard troops also operated under the command of Maj. General Knapp.
Gov. Evers also cited the ongoing protests in Portland for declining Homeland Security troops. These agents were filmed in unmarked uniforms grabbing citizens off the street and putting them into unmarked vans. Their presence and actions were cited as one of the reasons the protests in Portland escalated. When questioned about turning down Homeland Security during a Milwaukee Press Club discussion on September 9th, Evers responded “we saw how poorly that played out in Portland.”
None of the National Guard troops in Wisconsin were federalized, meaning under control of the federal government. They all were under the control of Maj. General Knapp for the duration of their stay.
The National Guard troops in Kenosha did not have policing authority. They provided crowd control to support law enforcement agents, who handled arrests.
Donald Trump posted on Twitter on the night of August 25th that Gov. Evers should call in the National Guard.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows also appeared on Fox News that night and said Evers had turned down an offer from the federal government for support, although Evers had accepted all support except Homeland Security for the above mentioned reasons.
Meadows adviser Ben Williamson also said on Twitter that local law enforcement had told the White House they needed at least 750 National Guard soldiers.
Adj. Major Knapp responded to these false statements: “I don’t worry about the president’s tweets.”
17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse shoots and kills Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber and injures Gaige Grosskreutz.
Wednesday, August 26
By Wednesday, most of the violence was over. The National Guard presence continued to expand in Kenosha.
Members of the Kenosha County Board sent a letter to Gov. Evers requesting additional National Guard troops.
Republican Congressman Bryan Steil and Senator Ron Johnson issued a statement demanding Gov. Evers accept federal aid, to which Republican Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth responded federal agents had already been onsite “since day one.”
Close to 2,000 National Guard troops were in Kenosha by the end of the week at the request of Maj. General Knapp.
Thursday, August 27
Arizona, Michigan, and Alabama agreed to send soldiers and resources to Kenosha through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact — a mutual agreement that allows states to send each other aid in times of emergency. Adj. Major Knapp stated the out-of-state Guard members would be “active state duty,” meaning directed by Wisconsin leadership and not federal orders.
Thursday September 10
The National Guard withdrew from Kenosha.
Kenosha leaders praised Gov. Evers’ response:
Republican Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth stated:
“The state has been fantastic as far as sending resources, from the very first minute that we asked them. They have sent everything that we’ve asked for.”
Democratic Kenosha County Executive Jim Kreuser said:
“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 National Guard float down from the sky. That’s not how it works. In fact, the system worked exactly how it’s designed to function, and Evers answered every call and did everything he could within his powers to assist Kenosha County in its time of greatest need.”