Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers On What's Next To Address Police Violence : Updates: The Fight Against Racial Injustice NPR's Noel King speaks with Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers about the violence in Kenosha and how he hopes to address it, given that he lacks the support of the Republican-held state legislature.

'We Aren't Giving Up': Wisconsin Governor Fights To Combat Police Violence

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NOEL KING, HOST:

When a city is in the middle of a tragedy, who is welcome to visit? President Trump and Joe Biden were both in Kenosha, Wis., this week. That city's been torn since a police officer shot a Black man in the back and a teenager allegedly killed two people who were protesting that shooting. Emma Swain (ph) went to school in Kenosha; she now lives in Milwaukee. And she is upset about what she sees as political visits.

EMMA SWAIN: My beef specifically is with anyone who comes here looking at it as, like, another campaign stop or another way to push their political agenda in any way. There are actual people here that are being hurt.

KING: Wisconsin's governor, Tony Evers, wrote a public letter asking President Trump not to come. Some of his constituents said he should have also asked Joe Biden not to come. The governor told me yesterday he actually did ask Biden to stay away.

TONY EVERS: I wrote that letter to President Trump, and candidate Trump decided to come. When Joseph Biden decided to come to Kenosha, I didn't have a chance to write the letter because I found out late in the game. So when I talked to his staff and then himself, I made it very clear that both of those issues are appropriate for both of them to consider.

KING: Governor Evers, you called for a special legislative session earlier this week on Monday to deal with the problem in Wisconsin of police violence. The Republican-held state legislature opened and closed that session in about 30 seconds without any debate. You, it would seem, are trying to address this problem. What is your next move?

EVERS: Well, we aren't giving up. Certainly, I know there are some Republican legislators that have an interest in this topic. I've talked to many of them. And they're - you know, this is just a first step. If we can't get the first step, we will not be able to get to a place we want. It's all about transparency and accountability. We will continue to work with legislative leaders to get them to that point. I know people in the state want this. Polling shows that. And frankly, I've also talked to law enforcement officials, and some of them are in favor of some of them, and some of them are not. At the end of the day, people expect that and I anticipate that the legislature will come in session sometime in the near future. But we have to keep the pressure on.

KING: NPR has had reporters in Kenosha and in Milwaukee. We've been talking to Black voters, other news outlets have been talking to Black voters who say very openly that they think the Democrats take their votes for granted and then fail to deliver on their promises. What do you say to Black residents who say the Democrats just haven't done much for us?

EVERS: Yeah. And I'm not going to sit back and say, well, the Republicans aren't going to help us. But that's part of the problem. They're in the majority in the legislature. But we cannot give up. That's the issue. We have proposals on the table. We have proposals from the Republicans that they're interested in. So let's get together. This isn't rocket science. I know we have to do it for the people in Kenosha, but we have to do it for people all across the state.

KING: Last question for you before I let you go - we have seen police shootings, police killings, followed by protests similar to what happened in Kenosha happen all across the country this summer. We've seen great attention paid to those killings. As you watch that unfold starting in about late May after George Floyd was killed, did you as governor have a plan for how you would handle something like this happening in Wisconsin? Did those events happening elsewhere in the country change the way you reacted after Jacob Blake was shot?

EVERS: Well, certainly, you never expect it. But you have to be prepared, clearly. And we are always prepared. Our National Guard is ready, and obviously others are. But we have to accomplish something. And I keep going back to that. We as leaders in the state have to show progress on something as it relates to this issue. And that's why I was very hopeful around the special session, and that's why I'm still hopeful that we will get something done before the end of the calendar year.

KING: Governor Evers, thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate your time.

EVERS: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SAM GENDEL AND SAM WILKES' "BOA")

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