Republicans bash Gov. Evers on 2-year anniversary of Kenosha unrest, Evers says he's not to blame

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KENOSHA Wis. (CBS 58) - On the two-year anniversary of the unrest that broke out in Kenosha after a black man was shot several times by a white police officer, Republican candidates bashed Gov. Tony Evers for the aftermath that left dozens of buildings burned and two dead.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels, Rep. Bryan Steil (WI-1st), and GOP attorney general candidate Eric Toney joined local law enforcement to tour parts of Kenosha that were impacted by violent protests that erupted during the summer of 2020.

While the tour was happening, Evers proposed a $600 million annual tax cut during an event in Milwaukee.

Jacob Blake, a black man, was shot seven times by Kenosha Police officer Rusten Sheskey, who is white, on August 23rd, while responding to a domestic complaint where Blake had a knife on him. It was later found on the driver's side floorboard of his car. Sheskey and the two other officers involved were never charged.

The shooting was captured on video by a bystander and quickly went viral on social media that evening when protests escalated into property damage and violence over the next few days.

Michels slammed his opponent Evers, who's seeking a second term, for not responding to the crisis sooner.

"Today is the two-year anniversary of perhaps his [Evers] largest failure," Michels said during a public safety roundtable with local leaders. "This is a situation where I would send in the guard. This should have not happened, and Gov. Evers should have not allowed this to happen."

Evers deployed 125 national guard members to Kenosha on Aug. 24 less than 24 hours after Blake was shot. Two days later that number rose to 500 guard members. Evers maintains he called additional resources to assist law enforcement when officials requested it. He also dismissed Republicans who blame him for the destruction.

"It's easy for people to now sit back and say it was all Evers fault. That's ridiculous," Evers said. "I did exactly what they asked me to do. Blaming me for a situation is just dead wrong and it's politics as usual."

When asked, Michels did say how many guard members he would have sent. Instead he pledged to “never let it happen again” if elected.

Rep. Steil, local law enforcement and business owners who attended the roundtable all agreed Evers response was a little too late.

"Not only did we have additional property damage, serious bodily injury -- we also had a loss of life in Kenosha and it was a failure of leadership by Gov. Evers," Steil said.

Kyle Rittenhouse, an Illinois teenager who was 17 at the time, drove to Kenosha allegedly to defend businesses and wound up shooting three protesters, killing two Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum. Rittenhouse was later found not guilty of homicide and all other charges he faced.

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