(The Center Square) – Wisconsin's senior U.S. Senator says there is a role for the federal government to play in helping states regain control of their streets, but he doesn't think it includes the Army.
Sen. Ron Johnson told News Talk 1130 WISN's Jay Weber on Tuesday that the federal government should help states root out the people or organizations hijacking the George Floyd protests.
"There is certainly an element of peaceful protests. I understand the anger and the frustration, it was an horrific situation with George Floyd," Johnson said. "But we do know that there are outside agitators. There is an incitement of riot. There are people moving interstate, that is a federal crime. I think that's where we step in."
Johnson said it is critical that mayors and governors stop the violence that has turned protests into opportunities for looting and destruction.
"We have to control the situation," Johnson added.
As for President Donald Trump's suggestion he will use federal troops to restore order, Johnson says that's a job that states can and should do.
"You really don't want to send in the U.S. military. You've got, I think, plenty of National Guard troops. If the governors use them," Johnson said. "I think that is what President Trump is trying to do. Put a little spine into these governors."
Gov. Tony Evers has deployed the National Guard to Milwaukee and Madison.
The troops in Madison have been busy protecting the State Capitol and other downtown buildings. Madison saw its third straight night of violence on Monday night and early Tuesday morning.
The guard worked alongside Madison Police to stop a crowd of people from breaking into downtown stores. There were also reports of gunfire and at least one report of someone trying to throw a Molotov cocktail.
Johnson says it is crucial for cities and states to restore the rule of law, even as peaceful protests continue.