Both Gov. Tony Evers and Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway condemned the violence and destruction Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the protest group issued a list of demands.
The violence began after a group of 200 to 300 protesters marched through downtown Madison, initially blocking intersections and obstructing driveways, Madison Police Department said in an incident report. The situation escalated when the group reached the State Capitol grounds.
Statues of Lady Forward, and Col. Hans Christian Heg, who fought and died during the Civil War on the Union side, were torn down and removed from the grounds. Both statues were later recovered, a city official told the Wisconsin State Journal, noting that protesters had removed the leg of Heg.
Protesters also broke the windows of multiple buildings on the grounds and tossed in a Molotov cocktail into the City County Building, police said. The group tried to break into the State Capitol building, but officers repelled them with pepper spray.
State Sen. Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee, was walking to the Capitol building late Tuesday when he encountered the protesters and began recording them. Carpenter said that he was “assaulted and beat up” by eight to 10 people as he took the video. He shared the 11-second footage on Twitter.
“This is the picture that got me assaulted and beat up by a mob,” he wrote. “Punched & kicked in the head. Might have concussion, left eye a little blurry, cheek shollen (sic), sore neck and ribs. This has to stop before some innocent person get killed. I locked up in the Capitol until it’s safe.”
The Madison Police Department told Fox News that the Capitol Police will likely handle the case. The Capitol Police didn’t immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
City officials have so far declined to use local police to protect buildings on city property, the State Journal reported.
In a statement, Evers said there was “significant damage to state property” and those responsible for the violence and destruction “will be held accountable.” He also said he was prepared to call in the National Guard.
“We are prepared to activate the Wisconsin National Guard to protect state buildings and infrastructure and are continuing to work with local law enforcement to understand their response to last night’s events and their plan to respond to similar events in the future,” he said.
Evers also wished Carpenter a speedy recovery following the alleged attack.
Meanwhile, Ebony Anderson-Carter told WMTV early Wednesday that she was the spokeswoman of the group, which she described as “a united front of organizers and activists for black liberation.”
Anderson-Carter relayed the group’s demands, which included the release of a black man whose arrest Tuesday triggered the protests.
Police have said the man, 28-year-old Devonere A. Johnson, was arrested after causing a disturbance at a restaurant while wielding a bat and speaking through a bullhorn.
The group’s other demands included the firing of a Madison police officer and that the department be defunded, with the money given to the community, the station reported.
“Please don’t take the actions out here as violence. Please don’t take that actions out here as misconstrued either. Take these actions as voices,” Anderson-Carter said, adding that the group wants a dialogue with officials.
Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway released a statement later Wednesday, calling the actions of the previous night “far from peaceful and exceedingly dangerous.”
She said that police are conducting a wide-ranging investigation.
“We need to separate First Amendment protests from those engaged in criminal conduct," Rhodes-Conway said. “People engaged in violence and criminal conduct against people or property on the streets of Madison will be held accountable.”
The mayor added that everyone in the city deserves to feel safe, protesters and police included.
“Everyone - police, protester, elected official, business owner, resident - everyone must find it within themselves to show compassion and kindness for each other, and to care about each other's safety and well-being,” she said.