Wisconsin State Senator Says He Was Assaulted by Protesters in Madison


A Wisconsin state senator said he was assaulted by protesters in Madison late Tuesday, amid demonstrations against racism and police violence around the city in which two statues were toppled.

The senator, Tim Carpenter, a Democrat who represents areas in Milwaukee, said that the incident took place after he took a cellphone video of protesters, who had been marching through downtown Madison for several hours.

Gov. Tony Evers of Wisconsin condemned the violence on Tuesday night, saying that Mr. Carpenter was “among the individuals attacked last night.” He said that the demonstrations “presented a stark contrast from the peaceful protests we have seen across our state in recent weeks,” adding that he was ready to activate the Wisconsin National Guard “to protect state buildings and infrastructure.”

Protesters on Tuesday brought down statues of an abolitionist, Hans Christian Heg, who died fighting for the Union in the Civil War, and a replica of Madison’s “Forward” figure, an allegorical work designed in the 1890s meant to embody the state’s motto. The demonstrations targeting those statues contrasted with similar protests in other cities and states where statues of Confederate and colonial figures have been removed by protesters or the authorities.

Mr. Carpenter told The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he’d stopped to take a photo of the protests, and he posted a video on Twitter that showed a large group of protesters standing in the street near the Capitol shouting. Two protesters can be seen running over to Mr. Carpenter, and one grabs his phone. The camera swerves.

“Leave my phone alone,” he can be heard saying. “Delete it!” a woman says. As news of the confrontation spread on social media, Mr. Carpenter tweeted that taking the images “got me assaulted & beat up” by eight to 10 people. He said that he may have had a concussion, that the vision in his left eye was blurry, and that he had a sore neck and ribs.

“This has to stop before some innocent person get killed,” he tweeted early Wednesday. “I locked up in the Capitol until it’s safe.”

Mr. Carpenter could not immediately be reached for comment. A spokesman for the Madison Police did not immediately respond to messages seeking more information.

A member of Mr. Carpenter’s office said its staff had no details about his condition on Wednesday morning. “He’s seeking medical attention at this time, that’s all we know,” he said.

In one photo shared by a reporter on social media, a man identified as Mr. Carpenter, in a blue T-shirt, appears to be in a confrontation with protesters. In others, he can be seen kneeling and lying on the ground. A local news station, WKOW 27, reported that he collapsed in front of its news crew and that they stayed with him until an ambulance arrived.

In a statement to The Washington Post, Mr. Carpenter said, “Sad thing I’m on their side for peaceful demonstrations — am a Gay Progressive Dem Senator served 36 years in the legislature.”

Credit…Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, via Associated Press

The protests on Tuesday were fueled in part by anger at the arrest of a black man, identified as Devonere Johnson by the police, at a restaurant near the Capitol. Video of the arrest shared on social media showed officers struggling with the man on the sidewalk, including pulling him by the legs and carrying his body to force him into a police car. He briefly runs from the car, and is again caught.

The police released a video showing the man speaking into a megaphone and holding a baseball bat in the restaurant. The department said in a statement that officers were trying to arrest him “for his actions inside the restaurant.”

The police later said that 200 to 300 people marched through downtown Madison late Tuesday night and into Wednesday, breaking windows at the City County Building and trying to “force entry” into the Capitol.

Mr. Evers said that protesters were prevented from entering the building by Capitol Police, and that demonstrators had done “significant damage” to state property.

“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,” the governor said in a statement. “Any single act of injustice against one person is less justice for all of us, and the people who committed these acts of violence will be held accountable.”


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