Aug 31, 2020
Kenosha Officials Press Conference Transcript August 31
Officials in Kenosha, WI held a press conference on August 31 to provide updates on the protest shooting, the National Guard presence, and Donald Trump’s visit. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Mayor John Antaramian: (00:01)
… and we will make a difference. And so today, as I want to thank all of them, I also want to thank Pastor Peoples because he is going to be doing a huge lift in helping us work through many of the issues that we have coming before us. He and the Department of Justice are going to be working with us on a number of our racial issues that are in the community. And we’re going to work together to resolve and move forward on those issues.
Mayor John Antaramian: (00:29)
I believe that you will see a stronger Kenosha when were [inaudible 00:00:34] The other issues I want to bring up though I think is, again, people need to understand the Guard is here, the police, the sheriff, the fire and officers from around the state and other places are here to be supportive of what needed to happen to make sure that we have peace. I have every confidence in those individuals and the work that they’re doing. We will get better and do a better job continuously. So thank you very much for being here.
Jim Kreuser: (01:12)
Jim Kreuser, Kenosha County executive. It’s been truly moving to see the people of Kenosha from all across our county coming together with respect, understanding, peace through prayer, peaceful protests, and showing the world our community in transforming the boarded up buildings into a beautiful tapestry. It’s been very touching what the citizens have done here and for the world to see. I hope you all here had a chance to see them and if you didn’t, that’s the rest of the story in Kenosha County.
Jim Kreuser: (01:53)
On August 4th, the county board approved a resolution declaring racism as a public crisis, health crisis and I’m committed to this work. We’re going to build a bond to our already strong partnerships with Pastor Peoples and the city Adeline Greene and the Coalition for Dismantling Racism and many other organizations have been doing great work here in Kenosha County.
Jim Kreuser: (02:18)
I’ve also heard the call for transparency and I can tell you that body cameras for the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department will be in the budget that I will present October 6th for implementation in 2021. I want to thank our community for adhering to the curfew last night. And for the number of nights we’ve had in letting protective services do their work. And I encourage more tolerance, peace and unity as we rebuild Kenosha County community to be even stronger tomorrow than it is today. Thank you.
Sheriff Beth: (03:01)
Good afternoon. Both the county executive and mayor pointed out, we’ve had several days of peace here than we have. The last five days have been closer to normal for Kenosha. And really if you go outside of a few block area in Kenosha, life has been just as I think it has been all the time. The businesses have cooperated. The people have cooperated. The citizens of Kenosha have been outstanding in their support for everything that’s been going on here and assisting law enforcement in so many different ways.
Sheriff Beth: (03:39)
From the very beginning, I’ve pointed this out, but I want to make it clear that every entity has been extremely cooperative.When we’ve asked for help. We’ve had resources from 40 different police agencies and Sheriff’s Departments throughout Kenosha. When we called for the National Guard, we called the governor’s office, they responded immediately. When we put out the call to the federal government, the governor had to make the call to the president and more resources came.
Sheriff Beth: (04:14)
And since all the pieces came together, we’ve had more calm in Kenosha. The protests have been peaceful and we’re very, very thankful for that. There have been a few arrests. There’s been over 200 arrests since this started, over half of those have come from outside of Kenosha. What I’ve learned this last week more about these types of events, things I’ve never known before. And I’ve learned that, and this is really for the people of Kenosha and anyplace this would happen again.
Sheriff Beth: (04:54)
There are a lot of outside agitators that try to scare people. They will make phone calls to businesses, to churches, to residents trying to scare and intimidate. Don’t let them do that. Don’t pass along social media that has been passed along and actually created to scare people. We have vetted out thousands of social media, I don’t know what you call it, but a little pages, little snapshots, or quotes, and most all of them have been false. As you pass them, please do. Please let us know of things you see.
Sheriff Beth: (05:38)
But remember, as there are people from outside Kenosha outside Wisconsin, and we’ve had some that are outside the United States, calling in here to scare people of what’s going to happen. If I could share just the resources that are here in Kenosha, it would make you feel better and I’m not going to share that, that isn’t what I’m here to do. But I’m letting the people of Kenosha know that we have a lot of resources, boots on the ground, technology. We have a lot of resources here in our disposal to keep Kenosha and the county safe.
Sheriff Beth: (06:24)
And there’s been no politics. I’m going to assume that on the outside of this county and outside of this operation there’s a lot of politics being played. You don’t see it here between the different agencies and all the different forces that are here. You don’t see it. It’s one cohesive group to protect this community. And I’m very proud of all those different pieces. For the young lady that asked me last Friday, if I saw the video and then someone actually sent me a little snippet of me, someone on that last Sunday night, a week ago, handed me their phone and I remembered that situation.
Sheriff Beth: (07:03)
But if you saw that video of me holding the phone, you didn’t look at what was around me. You did not look at the rocks being thrown at me, the Molotov cocktail that was landing near my feet. I wasn’t looking at the phone. I was looking at the people that were very animated around me, but this weekend I did look at the video. I still don’t have a comment on it. You’re asking me to make a comment about something that my department isn’t doing an investigation on.
Sheriff Beth: (07:31)
And I found out that there’s a lot of things that are coming out that aren’t quite accurate, but I’m letting other people sort through that. I’m doing the job I have to do and that’s helped keep people here safe.
Major General Paul Knapp: (07:50)
Good afternoon. I’m Major General Paul Knapp, Wisconsin’s Adjutant General. As we move into week two of this response, I want to provide a brief recap of Wisconsin’s National Guard, Wisconsin National Guard’s mission here in Kenosha. I’d like to start by doing also a recap, something I think that I’ve discussed a couple of times in this forum, but I think it bears repeating. And that’s the process and how it works when we get called out.
Major General Paul Knapp: (08:18)
So what happened was the events of the 23rd of August occurred after 5:00 PM. And shortly thereafter when the unrest started to occur, local authorities here, local officials and authorities made contact that evening as early as that evening with the governor’s office and emergency management. And started the process to have a Guard response. And then what that works or how that works is once the governor approves, we can send in our quick reaction force and I can activate the quick reaction force based on the governor’s authority.
Major General Paul Knapp: (09:01)
What the quick reaction force is that’s 125 service members. So I know I haven’t talked a lot about numbers, but I think this is an important number. Because that’s the number of service members that we have on a 12-hour recall, which means that once that call is made, and once we start those forces moving, 12 hours later, they will be at their armory ready to depart on mission wherever they’re needed throughout the state. So that’s kind of how that works.
Major General Paul Knapp: (09:28)
Then follow-on forces would be 24+ hours after that, because as I explained in one of these early press conferences and just reminded everybody that the National Guard, they’re citizen soldiers and airmen, and they have other jobs and when they get called, they have to stop what they’re doing, report to their armories, gather their gear, ensure that all their training is up-to-date before they can be involved in a response like this.
Major General Paul Knapp: (09:58)
So that’s kind of the background. I’ll go into a little bit of the timeline now. So it started on August 23rd at approximately and that was all through the evening. So it went from when the event occurred through until when we actually received the official response, the official request at 3:00 AM. And that came through at 3:00 AM and at 3:09 was when I received a verbal direction from the governor to activate the quick reaction force and mobilize those guardsman in support of Kenosha.
Major General Paul Knapp: (10:32)
And to be perfectly clear, there were a lot of calls, both between the locals and the State Emergency Operation Center and the governor’s office. And then also with me and then me notifying my subordinate commanders to be on alert for this mobilization coming up. So I just want to make everybody aware that there was a lot going on between when this event took place and 3:09 when I got the verbal go ahead from the governor.
Major General Paul Knapp: (11:05)
At that time, that was at 3:09 and then I gave the authorization to mobilize troops in accordance with the county’s request. And there were numerous calls, which I mentioned during that timeframe. And so we actually started the process based on the verbal authorization, which was followed up approximately 9:30 AM on Monday morning with a written order from the governor confirming that requests to mobilize troops in support of civil authorities here in Kenosha.
Major General Paul Knapp: (11:31)
Kenosha County also requested emergency police services, armored vehicles, radios from the state, the emergency management over the course of Monday afternoon. Then two Wisconsin State Patrol strike teams and an additional 125 law enforcement officers from neighboring jurisdictions and around the state responded. And in addition to the quick reaction force for the National Guard were here in Kenosha on Monday evening. On Tuesday and continuing through Friday, we increased our number-
Major General Paul Knapp: (12:03)
On Tuesday and continuing through Friday, we increased our number of Wisconsin National Guard Troops in accordance with the plan and the requests from the local authorities and this number topped over 1000 on Friday. Again, I haven’t been talking about numbers, so decided to go with that number and that, just give you some idea of the size of the force that is here in order to protect the public in Kenosha. Governor Evers also made an emergency management assistance compact request, or EMAC. I talked about that previously as well. Basically, that’s a request to other states to provide additional National Guard assets for the efforts here in Kenosha. By Thursday, August 27th, the state had secured those memorandums, those compacts with the other States, which were Michigan, Arizona, and Alabama, who sent their military police companies here to assist.
Major General Paul Knapp: (13:04)
Those States began arriving here on Friday, last week, and have been augmenting all of the other forces in place here in Kenosha, since then. We’re grateful that this weekend has remained peaceful in Kenosha. I can’t say that enough. We’re honored to be of assistance here in the state and in Kenosha in the time of need. Our National Guard troops will remain in Kenosha for as long as needed, and we’ll have all those discussions in conjunction with the Governor and local authorities on how long we’ll be here. We’ll continue to assist local authorities in preserving public safety, our number one mission, and setting the conditions for people to exercise their First Amendment rights. Thank you. Same as last time since I’m at the podium, I’ll be the first to take questions.
Media 9: (13:54)
Major General Paul Knapp: (13:55)
Media 9: (13:55)
What role, if any, did the White House have in sending National Guard members to Kenosha?
Major General Paul Knapp: (14:03)
The white house rolled in and has talked a lot about sending National Guard members in. What I want to reemphasize, is that the process is actually a Governor to Governor compact through the EMAC process. We had already started talking to other states. That’s one of the things we do right away during something like this. It’s a common practice and expected. So, that’s how that went.
Media 9: (14:30)
If the President tweets, if I didn’t insist on having the National Guard activate and go into Kenosha, Wisconsin, there wouldn’t be no Kenosha right now, that would be an untrue statement?
Major General Paul Knapp: (14:41)
Well, it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to comment on the president’s tweets.
Media 9: (14:47)
Sir, from a security perspective, should the president be coming as well?
Major General Paul Knapp: (14:53)
From a security perspective? Again, from the National Guard perspective, our mission here doesn’t change, even with the president coming tomorrow. That will be the majority of the security that will take up the movements of the President while he’s here in Kenosha, that will be taken by taken over by local law enforcement and State Troopers.
Speaker 1: (15:15)
Sir, will you continue the curfew?
Major General Paul Knapp: (15:17)
That is not, that would be a question for the local authorities. There’ll be up in just a minute. You can hold that question for them. Please.
Speaker 2: (15:24)
Sir, does the president’s visit provide any complications for you as the National Guard tomorrow? And if so, what? How are you preparing for this?
Major General Paul Knapp: (15:35)
I would say there, we do, it does not present any complications for the National Guard. We have a large number of forces here, and we’re going to continue our mission, which is public safety surrounding Kenosha and offering people the right to exercise their First Amendment rights.
Speaker 3: (15:56)
This question is for the Mayor. Mr. Mayor-
Major General Paul Knapp: (16:00)
We’re going to-
Speaker 4: (16:00)
We’re going to wait til the Mayor comes to the podium.
Speaker 3: (16:01)
Okay. Maybe you can answer then, Sir.
Major General Paul Knapp: (16:03)
Well, you want to hold it, hold down for the Mayor, if you don’t mind. Thanks. Right. Okay.
Speaker 5: (16:13)
You’re the Adjutant General for the Wisconsin National Guard.
Major General Paul Knapp: (16:14)
Speaker 5: (16:14)
Who is in charge of the Michigan, Alabama-
Major General Paul Knapp: (16:18)
Speaker 5: (16:19)
Arizona guard, and then are they in contact with you?
Major General Paul Knapp: (16:22)
That’s a great question. Under these compacts between the Governors, what that does, is that sends the service members from the other states here to Wisconsin, and they’re under my operational control and command here on the ground. They remain under the administrative control of their home states, but we are in contact with them. In fact, I’ve been out and visited soldiers from all the states that are here represented from outside of Wisconsin.
Speaker 6: (16:47)
Sir, you indicated that there’s 1000 on the ground, as of this weekend. Is that the number that it remains right now, and you expect that number to rise?
Major General Paul Knapp: (16:53)
It’s over 1000, and I will, that number will remain constant until we have a conversation with the local authorities and all of the other law enforcement agencies that are participating here, and we decide that it’s the appropriate time to start to scale back. That’s the over 1000 Wisconsin National Guard members, and it does not include the National Guard members from other states, which I’ll tell you are over 500 from other states.
Speaker 6: (17:18)
So, the number’s over 1500 right now.
Major General Paul Knapp: (17:21)
Yeah, over 1500.
Speaker 6: (17:21)
When will you reevaluate that?
Major General Paul Knapp: (17:25)
We reevaluate that on a daily basis.
Speaker 7: (17:32)
How do you determine which states to call from?
Major General Paul Knapp: (17:32)
What we did is, the question was, how do we determine which states we call from? Well, we started having conversations with states that we have a relationship with, the nearby states. Michigan would be a good example of that. However, the National Guard Bureau was instrumental in assisting with getting that message out, that we were looking for additional military police companies. They helped us put that message out. We were handling the situation on the ground here, and then the National Guard Bureau, which is in DC, they then put out the message to the other 53 states and territories for assistance. Okay.
Speaker 4: (18:18)
No further questions for-
Major General Paul Knapp: (18:19)
Oh, I see one over here.
Speaker 8: (18:21)
Can you elaborate a bit on last Monday night’s law enforcement strength and how you said something about, there were two state patrol strike teams, how many per team, roughly?
Major General Paul Knapp: (18:31)
You know what, I actually don’t know the exact number of a strike team, so I’m not going to, I’m not going to say it’s a, yeah. I don’t know about the strike team strength.
Speaker 8: (18:41)
You also said there was an outside [inaudible 00:18:42]-
Major General Paul Knapp: (18:41)
Yeah. About 125 is the number that I gave. That’s based on an Emergency Policing Services Request, that also comes through the State Emergency Operations Center. When that request comes through, and generally that’s done before we would call the National Guard. In this case, it was done in conjunction with calling up the National Guard, so that we had both going at the same time. That first night, that’s a call that goes out to all law enforcement around the state for assistance here in the area. There were over 125 that responded, and were here on Monday.
Speaker 9: (19:13)
General Knapp, how important was the Guard being here in maintaining peace in Kenosha?
Major General Paul Knapp: (19:19)
I don’t know that I’m a good judge of that. I think the National Guard has done a great job of being here and helping to set the conditions for safe and peaceful protests and public safety here in Kenosha. I’m very proud of the response from the National Guard across the state. Like I’ve said many times, we’re your neighbors and we’re definitely happy to be here and offer our assistance.
Speaker 9: (19:44)
Would things have been different if you weren’t here?
Major General Paul Knapp: (19:47)
I really don’t want to speculate.
Speaker 10: (19:51)
Sir, can you talk to more specifics about what your agencies are doing? You talk about keeping the peace. Are you making arrests? Are you leaving that to the local officials?
Major General Paul Knapp: (19:58)
Yeah. Great question. No, we are not making arrests. That is something that the local authorities and sworn police officers and sheriffs are doing in this operation, and that’s fairly standard. What we do is, we, the National Guard, what we do is we come in and we fulfill roles that allows those law enforcement officers to be freed up from other roles. Like, when you came in here today and you saw that the perimeter and entry control points were being staffed by a National Guard, that’s so that the officers that would normally be staffing those can be out, out on the streets, doing what they do best. Okay.
Speaker 4: (20:42)
Major General Paul Knapp: (20:42)
Great. Thank you.
Speaker 4: (20:43)
Now, questions for the Mayor? [inaudible 00:20:49]
Speaker 3: (20:49)
Sure. Mr. Mayor, can you tell us who’s coordinating the President’s visit and where we will go when he visits Kenosha?
Mayor John Antaramian: (20:56)
I will tell you that the reason the Chief isn’t here, is the Chief of Police is working with Secret Service and everyone else who is required to be working with for the President’s safety in his visit. I cannot give you any details.
Speaker 3: (21:09)
Would you be meeting with him?
Mayor John Antaramian: (21:10)
At this point in time. I cannot give you any details of anything that’s going to be happening.
Speaker 4: (21:16)
One at a time, please.
Mayor John Antaramian: (21:17)
One at a time. Thank you.
Speaker 11: (21:18)
What do you think of the President coming to Kenosha?
Mayor John Antaramian: (21:20)
I think I made, I put my statement out early yesterday morning that I felt that the timing was wrong. We always have room for Presidents to come to visit, candidates to come to visit. That’s the process that you have and it’s something that we would, we appreciate and have people do. But, the timing on this we felt was not good, and so we did make the request for him to do it at a different time.
Speaker 12: (21:44)
Mayor, why do you think that the timing is wrong?
Mayor John Antaramian: (21:47)
I think that you have a community that’s in the process of trying to heal. There’s so many things that have gone on in this community, it just seemed to me, and I think others, that it would be better for us to be able to pull together, let the community get together and actually heal up the process of what’s going on and start dealing with the concerns that we have that need to be addressed. It would have been nice if it had waited a while, a little longer down the road, but it is what it is.
Speaker 13: (22:14)
Mayor, do you feel that Kenosha is being used as a political prop?
Mayor John Antaramian: (22:20)
I think that Kenosha at this present time, needs peace and needs to heal and needs people to allow us to do that. That’s what I think Kenosha needs.
Speaker 14: (22:32)
Mayor, when I hear the sheriff, when we hear the sheriff talk about agents from even outside the country are reaching out to churches and businesses, trying to churn anxiety. How does that hit your ear? What is the goal, in your estimation, of people doing that?
Mayor John Antaramian: (22:47)
To me, it is one of the most aggravating things that can happen. People are trying to instigate a problem. All communities have issues, and it’s important for people to realize that we need to deal with our own issues. I don’t need outside groups trying to agitate my community or try to … I shouldn’t say actually, try to scare my community. Hopefully, as time goes on, we’ll track down some of those folks and they will be dealt with, according to the law.
Speaker 14: (23:17)
What do you think agenda is?
Mayor John Antaramian: (23:20)
I’m not even going to try to speculate what someone’s agenda is.
Speaker 1: (23:23)
Will you be issuing additional curfews, Sir?
Mayor John Antaramian: (23:26)
There is going to be a continued curfew, through the rest of the week. The sheriff and I have chatted a little bit about the timing of it. The curfew will be continued through Tuesday night and then on Wednesday it will be extended to nine o’clock.
Speaker 15: (23:42)
Mayor, are journalists exempt from that curfew, because law enforcement officers tried to tell a reporter that he couldn’t be there and had to adhere.
Mayor John Antaramian: (23:50)
That is a very good question. I will definitely talk to the law enforcement to deal with that, so that that’s not a problem.
Speaker 15: (23:57)
So, media is exempt?
Mayor John Antaramian: (23:58)
I think that there has to be a … Again, the law is what it is, but I need to talk-
Mayor John Antaramian: (24:03)
Again, the law is what it is, but I need to talk with media, or talk with the local officials to make sure that we can accommodate.
Speaker 16: (24:13)
Did you have any response from the White House when you asked about them?
Mayor John Antaramian: (24:15)
No, I did not.
Speaker 17: (24:18)
Media 8: (24:19)
Mayor, you’ve spoken about systemic racism in Kenosha and in Kenosha County. Do you believe that law enforcement here contributes to that?
Mayor John Antaramian: (24:26)
I think law enforcement does a very good job in our community. And like every entity and every group out there, we have to deal with racism in general. And I think that is what we’re planning on doing.
Speaker 18: (24:39)
Mayor, will you meet with the president tomorrow? What will you tell him?
Mayor John Antaramian: (24:42)
Again, that has not been established in any way. And I will let you know if and when I do something.
Speaker 16: (24:50)
Mayor, what kind of preparation is taking place for participants tomorrow?
Mayor John Antaramian: (24:55)
I cannot tell you. In all honesty, I cannot tell you because that is something that law enforcement is dealing with. And I am not involved in that aspect of what’s going on.
Speaker 19: (25:06)
Mayor, you mentioned that you want the community to heal. Why is the president’s visit not a healing event?
Mayor John Antaramian: (25:14)
I think at the present time, this community, to be very honest with you, would like to have everything just calmed down. Nothing against all you wonderful people here, but some of them would like to probably just see a lot of this just toned down and have the opportunity for people to talk. We need to talk, it’s internal. We need to do that.
Speaker 6: (25:34)
Mayor, the sheriff talked about how there’s politics at play here. We are in a swing state, you know that. This is an election year, you know that. Can you speak about how you are looking at it through the lens of how politicians are using this moment in time?
Mayor John Antaramian: (25:48)
You know, everyone is going to be always doing this with the politics of what’s happening because you have a presidential election. At this point in time, you know what, I care about my community and I care about the people in my community. And that’s what my focus is. And that’s what I’m going to focus on.
Speaker 18: (26:06)
Is your community being exploited?
Mayor John Antaramian: (26:09)
I think you’ve already heard what I’ve had to say on this issue. I’m not going to continue to do go down this road.
Speaker 20: (26:15)
Question for the sheriff.
Mayor John Antaramian: (26:17)
Good, then I’m out? Okay. Sheriff, you’re on.
Sheriff Beth: (26:21)
How’d you get out? Yeah.
Speaker 20: (26:25)
Sheriff, the County executive talked about body cameras for your deputies. Has this been something in the works? Have there been budget delays, or is this just now coming on in light of what’s happened?
Sheriff Beth: (26:36)
No, we’d been working on body cams for several months. So this isn’t anything new. The budget is still a work in progress for 2021. So it hasn’t been presented to the county board. The county exec has already said that it will be in the budget to be presented to the county board.
Speaker 16: (26:57)
How are you guys dealing with preparation for the president’s visit tomorrow?
Sheriff Beth: (27:03)
There is a large group of people that work on this. It isn’t just at this event. The president’s been here before. Other presidents have been here before. They’ve come in in different ways. And the actual event itself, I know he’s coming in, but even if I did know something about his arrival and those types of things, I can’t discuss it.
Speaker 21: (27:26)
Sheriff Beth, earlier, you said more than 200 arrests were made, in the press release that said for more than 44 different cities. Two part question. Can you talk about what cities and are we seeing a city in particular more than others? And can you show us pictures as a weapons that were seized?
Sheriff Beth: (27:46)
When I said earlier, there were over 200 arrests and I think the numbers were kind of mixed together. There were 40 law enforcement agencies from throughout the state here. I don’t know the exact states that people came from. I think there were, if I remember right, there were about 205 arrests, and 114 were from out of Kenosha.
Speaker 21: (28:12)
Okay. It says arrest numbers include people from 44 different cities. Can you talk about [crosstalk 00:28:18]
Sheriff Beth: (28:18)
I didn’t get that number. So maybe our department put out a press release like that. And maybe they read that to me earlier, but I didn’t write that down. I try to write keynotes
Speaker 21: (28:26)
And the weapons. What kind of weapons? Can you show us the weapons that were seized?
Sheriff Beth: (28:30)
I don’t have those. Those would all be processed in evidence. I don’t have those. I don’t know what kind of weapons there were. I just don’t. In the back.
Speaker 18: (28:37)
Sheriff, [crosstalk 00:28:37] association has said that Blake fought with officers and refused to drop a night. Obviously, other side is saying that is not true. This is what’s leading to a lot of frustration and confusion. They’re also staying their efforts to tase him failed. Can you please shed some light on any of this please?
Sheriff Beth: (28:52)
Well, and I can’t. Major reason for that is DCI did the investigation. For me to give any details that my department is not investigating, that’d be completely inappropriate. So DCI, I know that they’re trying to get this done as expediently as possible, but I don’t have comments on the investigation. I just can’t do it.
Media 8: (29:17)
Sheriff, the Mayor said that this community needs healing. This is obviously something that he wants first and foremost, and therefore he’s not in support of the president coming tomorrow. What are your thoughts on that? Should the president be coming to Kenosha?
Sheriff Beth: (29:36)
The president coming here, and we all know it’s a election year. My understanding is… Well, the governor was here last week. I don’t know if there’s going to be other visits here. Does anyone of that stature create more work for us? It does. And for me to comment to should he be here, some think he should and some think he shouldn’t. For me to give my opinion truthfully on that right now, it doesn’t matter. I know that he is coming and we’re going to be doing our best to protect him. Sir.
Media 9: (30:12)
But you’re a law enforcement person. That’s the problem here. So what is your opinion? What is your opinion [inaudible 00:30:21]?
Sheriff Beth: (30:20)
I just answered that before I even finished?
Media 9: (30:22)
So Sheriff, I understand it’s just a chain of command when I asked this question previously. But again, you are the chief law enforcement officer here. When the president tweets, “If I didn’t insist on having the National Guard activating, going to Kenosha, Wisconsin, there would be no Kenosha right now.” Is that a false statement?
Sheriff Beth: (30:41)
Truthfully, the person who could answer that better… All I know is that when we requested the National Guard, we sent it to Madison and Madison sent people down here. General Knapp was one of the first ones here. Who that gets coordinated through, that’s one of the things that’s not in my world. And I think he answered that kind of already. But I don’t know the steps. I can’t tell you.
Speaker 22: (31:05)
How safe will president be tomorrow?
Sheriff Beth: (31:09)
Hopefully very safe. It’s quite an operation to get a president here, to get the governor here. There’s a substantial amount of resources to escort the governor around. The president is even a higher level and vice president is in that same realm too. So the president is going to be hopefully quite safe here. That’s our goal.
Speaker 16: (31:35)
Sheriff, can you provide any update on the written out investigation [crosstalk 00:31:39]?
Sheriff Beth: (31:38)
It’s the city police department and the FBI. I know the basics of it, but I have no update on it.
Speaker 19: (31:46)
Sheriff Beth: (31:46)
Speaker 19: (31:48)
Is the Kenosha County Sheriff’s department working with federal agents in the city?
Sheriff Beth: (31:52)
Absolutely. We’re working in the Sheriff’s Department. 40 other law enforcement agencies from out the state, a huge number of National Guard and resources from the federal government are here working together as one entire unit to protect the city. Yes, sir.
Media 8: (32:12)
There’s a national reckoning right now with police reforms and such in the wake of both George Floyd and Jacob Blake shooting now. Do you believe that there are any reforms necessary in Kenosha or at the state level or at the federal level?
Sheriff Beth: (32:23)
I’m open to anything they want to present, any kind of special training or anything they want to do. I’m open for making whatever changes we can. And I’ve not seen what those reforms are, so I really can’t comment on them. But if there’s ideas that we can do things better, I’m all for it.
Speaker 23: (32:41)
Sheriff Beth, you said you didn’t see the video on Friday. Then you said you decided to watch it over the weekend. Why that decision now?
Sheriff Beth: (32:50)
Because a young lady asked me if I’d seen it, and I watched it.
Speaker 23: (32:53)
Because she said it not because of your experience in law enforcement.
Sheriff Beth: (32:58)
I’m not an investigator. When I was on the road many years ago, I did okay on the road as an investigator, as a deputy sheriff. Other people are much more talented than I am to put that type of evidence together. My world right now for the last 18 years has been to do this type of thing with media. It’s been to meet with the public. It’s been to run the Sheriff’s Department. I let the investigation part go to the people in my department and other departments that do it much better than I do.
Sheriff Beth: (33:37)
And partly the other thing is I’m out here speaking to all of you to give my opinion on very short, little clips. I don’t think it’s appropriate because you’re not seeing the entire thing. I think a lot of people in all different parts of this entire situation are giving their opinion when they don’t know all the facts. I don’t want to do that.
Speaker 6: (34:00)
Sheriff, you talked about individuals reaching out to businesses and churches, trying to rile them up, some from outside the country. Can you give us some detail on what you think the motives are there? Where are they coming from outside the country? And what are the messages?
Sheriff Beth: (34:13)
Let’s see. I know one church that I don’t belong to had a phone call and asked if I was a member of their church. And then when the pastor there asked about it, they hung up. There are businesses here that have some real shirttail connections to the Sheriff’s Department, and they called and said that they would be… I don’t remember exactly what it said, but they were threatened in some way. I don’t remember if they were going to harm them. I don’t remember that part.
Sheriff Beth: (34:40)
I’ve seen little clips on social media that people would forward to our staff and they’d research it, that there are six buses coming down from Wauwatosa, and they’re ready to do whatever. Well, we look into that stuff, but it never materializes. And another one that they said that this group was going to go out into the county in different subdivisions and different towns. And they were going to start burning and looting. Which created a big scare for people in Kenosha. And we looked into it. As I said earlier, we have a lot of resources here investigating that stuff. And a lot of it, it gets out to the public, it gets spread thousands of times over. And by the time we can actually research it, a thousand people know about it and are afraid.
Sheriff Beth: (35:33)
So I’m just trying to… My goal with explaining this is there is a huge amount of misinformation put out there by people wanting to scare citizens here in Kenosha. And I wish I could make it stop, but I don’t think I can. But I want the people of Kenosha know that huge amount of resources here to protect you, and you won’t see them all. And when this gets finished, whenever that happens, you still will not know how many resources-
Sheriff Beth: (36:03)
Whenever that happens you still do not know how many resources are here right now to protect you. Will that be able to stop anything that happens or comes our way? I hope so.
Speaker 24: (36:11)
One more question for Sheriff [inaudible 00:36:12]. [crosstalk 00:36:12]. One more question for Sheriff [inaudible 00:36:13].
Of the people arrested, can you say how many were protestors? Do some of them just live here? Were they out past curfew? Can you elaborate on that?
Sheriff Beth: (36:22)
I have no idea who they arrested. I know some were arrested for burglary. There were some for weapons complaints. We’ve had some people that were felons that were carrying guns. I know that there was one car load coming from northern Wisconsin that they were coming here to kill somebody and unfortunately the person wasn’t very smart, had an ankle bracelet on and they were able to intercept him as he was coming into Kenosha, and they had guns.
Media 13: (36:55)
What do you mean they were coming to kill somebody? What-
Sheriff Beth: (36:59)
I didn’t finish yet. So, did I answer your question, though?
Sheriff Beth: (37:02)
I don’t know exactly. And that’s part of our problem. We don’t know, especially like Tuesday night. We don’t know who’s doing what. We don’t know. Are they a protestor? Are they trying to protect? There’s so many. They don’t have hats that say “press.” They don’t have hats that say, “I’m a protestor.” We don’t know until we actually put our hands on. Someone?
Media 13: (37:28)
What do you mean they were coming here to kill somebody?
Sheriff Beth: (37:30)
Well, I was one of them. So, I wasn’t trying to put that there, but …
Media 13: (37:33)
So, I mean, it was threats to law enforcement, were threats to-
Sheriff Beth: (37:37)
Media 13: (37:37)
Sheriff Beth: (37:38)
Yeah. I think, me and the Chief. We have a lot of friends and I don’t want to speak for the Chief of Police, but there’s a lot of things that our bodies physically won’t take with all the threats that we have. It just won’t fit.
Media 2: (37:50)
Sheriff, you touched on the video of you watching the video, you mentioned Molotov Cocktails where being thrown. Can you elaborate more on that situation and what was going on? Were you injured by any of they, you said bricks were being thrown, can you talk more about that?
Sheriff Beth: (38:06)
That entire time it got worse and worse as we went into the evening. And by the time we finally got out of there, there was one city squad car that was completely destroyed that I ended up barely getting into. The captain was struck in the head by a brick, and he fell right in front of me. Then we were trying to leave that area as calmly and quickly as we can to protect us, to get the group to hopefully calm down, and that was a very … processing a crime scene is not easy. It took, I don’t remember how many hours it took, but yeah, I was getting all kinds of things thrown at me. Molotov Cocktails. I was getting, I don’t even know what they were throwing at me, but I could feel the ground rumble near me.
Media 2: (38:56)
[inaudible 00:38:56] while you were watching [inaudible 00:38:57].
Sheriff Beth: (39:01)
Yeah, and again, I saw that and the group that’s standing around me was very animated. I remember it very clearly. I was watching … I had it here, but I’m watching everything else around me and trying to also watch in the air to make sure nothing’s coming my way, because it was before that and I can’t tell you what was thrown at me at that time.
Speaker 24: (39:23)
[crosstalk 00:39:23] That’s the last question for the Sheriff. Thank you.
Media 3: (39:25)
A follow up. When you say someone was trying to kill people. Was that a post that was made on social media? Were you guys being threatened directly? Can you elaborate on that a little bit more?
Speaker 24: (39:37)
That’s the last question.
Sheriff Beth: (39:38)
I’ll do that one. [crosstalk 00:39:38] Let’s see. I don’t know how we found out about that group of three that came down from northern Wisconsin. I don’t know how we found out about that one. I was alerted to it but there have been some emails and stuff that are a little bit more directed toward certain people, myself being one of them. But how those three were picked up in the beginning, I don’t know that. It’s a great question, but I don’t know that answer.
Media 4: (40:02)
Sheriff, how [crosstalk 00:40:02]-
Speaker 24: (40:02)
Okay. Thank you. Any questions for the County Executive?
Media 4: (40:07)
Yes, sir? Can you step to the podium. Will you be meeting with the President tomorrow and what is your opinion on him [crosstalk 00:40:13]?
Jim Kreuser: (40:12)
I don’t know the agenda of the President’s visit and I have not been contacted to meet with the President.
Speaker 24: (40:18)
What’s your reaction to him coming to visit?
Jim Kreuser: (40:21)
Well, I put a statement out also and basically it’s not the ideal time, because a lot of crisis going on in our community and there’s limited resources, not limited resources we have a lot of resources, but there’s a lot even in good times for a presidential visit to in fact have a visit. But things have been relatively calm. So, let’s just hope it stays that way. That would be good.
Media 5: (40:43)
Related to that, sir, are you worried at all or concerned that the President’s visit will inflame tensions or lead to violence?
Jim Kreuser: (40:52)
We’ll find out tomorrow, won’t we?
Speaker 24: (40:55)
Any other questions for the County Executive?
Media 6: (40:56)
County Executive, you said that the sheriff’s deputies would be getting body cameras, hopefully, in this new budget. Have you talked about Kenosha police getting body cameras [inaudible 00:41:05]?
Jim Kreuser: (41:05)
I’m dealing with just the Kenosha …
Media 7: (41:11)
County Executive, there’s been not a lot of detail out on the amount of damage, a dollar amount on damage. Do you have any estimates yet on the dollar amount of damage from the fires and other things? And whether any residential properties were burned? And if they were, how many, including apartments [crosstalk 00:41:31]?
Jim Kreuser: (41:31)
I don’t have the totals on that, but that’s an important point that we need to address from an insurance issue and to make sure that they’re getting paid full amounts so that they can re-invest those back into the community to re-build. We have some dollar amounts at the county, but they’re loose figures right now as we move forward. I know the city is calculating theirs also and we’re working … I have a call into [Caba 00:41:55] for them to be reaching out to businesses so we don’t miss anybody. It’s not always obvious of who had damage and who did not and who made a report.
Media 7: (42:05)
You don’t think there were any single family homes that were burned, but do you know-
Jim Kreuser: (42:09)
I couldn’t say if there were or there weren’t. I don’t know of any right now.
Media 7: (42:13)
Jim Kreuser: (42:13)
Media 8: (42:15)
I know you, sir, had already talked about the President’s visit, but the Blake family says that they have not been contacted by the White House, at least not yet, as of a half an hour ago. Should the President be making an outreach to the Blake family? And should the Blake family take up any kind of invitation to meet with the President if, in fact, that’s a possibility? What are your thoughts on that?
Jim Kreuser: (42:37)
The President has so many advisors to advise him how to, what to do and how to do it. But as long as you asked that question, what was your question, sir, to the General?
Media 9: (42:48)
Was that a false statement [inaudible 00:42:49]?
Jim Kreuser: (42:49)
What was that?
Media 9: (42:52)
Jim Kreuser: (42:53)
I didn’t read the tweet.
Media 9: (42:54)
All right, I’ll read you the tweet. The tweet was something to the effect of-
Jim Kreuser: (42:58)
No, no. What was the tweet?
Media 9: (42:59)
The tweet by the President?
Jim Kreuser: (43:01)
Media 9: (43:02)
“If he had not activated the National Guard there would be no Kenosha.” Is that a false statement?
Jim Kreuser: (43:07)
Yes, that’s a false statement.
Media 10: (43:12)
So, you’re a political leader here, though-
Jim Kreuser: (43:14)
Media 10: (43:15)
And the Blake family is the victim in all this. So, what is your thought about whether those, the President-
Jim Kreuser: (43:21)
I’m not going to answer questions presuming what the President should be thinking. You have to ask the White House and the staff.
Media 10: (43:26)
How would that affect your [crosstalk 00:43:27]?
Jim Kreuser: (43:27)
We’re on to the next person.
Media 10: (43:28)
How would it affect your community, if in fact that meeting happened?
Speaker 24: (43:33)
Did you have a follow up?
Media 9: (43:34)
I did. You said it was a false, what part of it was false? That he activated the National Guard or there would be no Kenosha? Elaborate on that. Why [crosstalk 00:43:41]?
Jim Kreuser: (43:42)
You asked specifically two different times, one question.
Media 9: (43:45)
Jim Kreuser: (43:45)
I wanted to give you an answer to that question.
Media 9: (43:47)
And I’m asking you why do you believe it’s false?
Jim Kreuser: (43:50)
Because Kenosha is a strong community and we’re going to come back regardless. [crosstalk 00:43:55] Every day great things happen in Kenosha County. We went from 1988 when the assembly plant closed and rebuilt. We went through the Great Recession in 2008 and rebuilt. And we were the hot spot of the Midwest. And even in some parts of the nation internationally, up until these recent turn of events with covid and this, and we’re going to rebound again. Because this is a working class community. We have a lot of businesses here. We doubled the amount of businesses here in the last decade that are substantial employers. And Kenosha is going to be on the comeback. And for someone to say we wouldn’t exist but for their action, when I believe it to be false, because I know things, too, I just have to tell you what I believe the answer is. And that’s false. [crosstalk 00:44:40] Next question.
Speaker 24: (44:41)
Jim Kreuser: (44:41)
You’ve had two.
Media 9: (44:42)
Do you believe that Kenosha [crosstalk 00:44:43]?
Speaker 24: (44:43)
Sir, you’ve already had two questions. I’m sorry.
Media 11: (44:45)
Sir, would the messaging be the same to the Biden campaign if they wanted to come later in the week as far as waiting, please hold off? Or is it particularly related to the current President?
Jim Kreuser: (44:56)
I believe both of them should wait till the end of the week or the weekend, but it’s … I haven’t heard from the Biden camp, so I don’t know what’s going on there either. So, there we go. Thank you very much.
Media 11: (45:12)
Anyone who has not asked a question?
Media 12: (45:12)
I’ll ask you the same thing I asked the Mayor. Do you believe that law enforcement in Kenosha and Kenosha County has contributed to systemic racism in any way?
Jim Kreuser: (45:21)
We are working with the entire community to work on this. Every community has work to do. And we’re going to be taking those steps. Not in the short range, but also in the long range of how we do training and working with our people and our community. I think it’s a good start if you look around our town right now. The plywood is up, but so are the creative talents of all the people who live here and put their good hearts into making us feel at ease once again. So, Kenosha is going to be in a good place in the years to come. And addressing racism is going to make us stronger.
Jim Kreuser: (45:59)
We diversified in business from when they used to assemble cars here to now. But now we’re going to be stronger by having better diversity in working together.
Media 12: (46:10)
Jim Kreuser: (46:10)
Thank you very much.
Speaker 24: (46:11)
Thank you. That concludes the press conference. Thank you.