Tim Carpenter Attack

Two people approach Sen. Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee, as he is taking pictures of the latest night of violence at the Wisconsin Capitol. Carpenter said on Twitter the two were part of a group that attacked him. 

(The Center Square) – There is almost no one in the Wisconsin legislature who is speaking up for the protesters who toppled statues and attacked a state senator in the latest night of violence. 

A large mob turned their anger against the State Capitol late Tuesday night and into the early morning hours of Wednesday. They tore down the Forward statue, as well as a statue of Col. Hans Christian Heg, a Norwegian-American abolitionist who died fighting for the Union Army at the Battle of Chickamauga while leading the Scandinavian 15th Wisconsin Volunteer Regiment during the U.S. Civil War. 

Sen. Tim, Carpenter, D-Milwaukee, took to Twitter early Wednesday morning to say he was attacked when he tried to take a picture of the damage. 

"I took this pic- it got me assaulted & beat up," Carpenter tweeted. "Punched/kicked in the head, neck, ribs. Maybe concussion, socked in left eye is little blurry, sore neck & ribs. 8-10 people attacked me. Innocent people are going to get killed. Capitol locked- stuck in office. Stop violence nowPlz!"

As of noon Wednesday, no one had been arrested for either vandalism or the attack on Carpenter. 

Lawmakers' reaction to the chaos, while all negative, ran along a spectrum.

Rep. Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, said in a statement that he is "frustrated" by what happened. 

“In recent weeks, we have seen people across the country raising their voice to peacefully speak out against injustice in our society," Hintz said. "What happened last night at the Capitol goes against those efforts and does harm to our state. Violently attacking a state senator and damaging state property does not, in any way, help to make positive change in our communities."

Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, also said the attack on the Capitol is not in line with the protests Madison has seen since George Floyd's death late last month. 

"No person should feel unsafe in their community," Hansen said. "The violence needs to stop so we can return the focus to the original intent of the protest: to provide systemic reform to our police departments so the rights of every person, regardless of their race, are protected."

Republicans had much stronger takes on what happened. 

"My advice to all Wisconsinites: Do not travel to the city of Madison," Rep. Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, wrote on Twitter early Wednesday. "It is unsafe and your lives could be in danger. The Mayor has lost control. Gov. [Tony] Evers refuses to take control. The weakest leadership I’ve ever witnessed."

Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, issued an official statement that clearly stated: "Enough is Enough."

He continued: "While the Governor slept in his estate, the statehouse was under siege. We need a leader, not an apologist. Governor Evers and Mayor Rhodes-Conway have enabled this destructive and violent behavior through consistent inaction and appeasement. What will it take for Governor Evers to see that these are not protests, they are violent riots?" Kapenga wrote. "These criminals need to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, and be ordered to pay restitution to repair the damage."

Evers said he is monitoring the situation. But he added he's also focused on why protesters were in the streets in the first place. 

“What happened in Madison last night presented a stark contrast from the peaceful protests we have seen across our state in recent weeks," the governor said in a statement. "I want to be clear: violence against any person – whether in the middle of the street in broad daylight, at home trying to sleep, going for a run, or happening upon a protest as was the case last night – is wrong. It should never be tolerated."

The governor said he is "prepared to activate the Wisconsin National Guard," but as of noon Wednesday had not issued that order. 

The Center Square Correspondent

An industry veteran with two decades of experience in media, Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square.