Amid heated demonstrations that left two statues destroyed and windows smashed in Madison, Wis., a Democratic state senator was reportedly attacked by protesters near the state Capitol.
State Sen. Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee) told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he had been heading to the Capitol to work late Tuesday when he stopped to snap a photo of the protesters.
“I don’t know what happened … all I did was stop and take a picture … and the next thing I’m getting five-six punches, getting kicked in the head,” said Carpenter, 60.
In a message to The Washington Post, Carpenter said he may have a concussion and fractured nose in addition to a bruised eye and sore ribs and back.
“This has got to stop before someone gets killed,” he wrote. “Sad thing I’m on their side for peaceful demonstrations — am a Gay Progressive Dem Senator served 36 years in the legislature.”
This is the picture that got me assaulted and beat up by a mob. Punched & kicked in the head. Might have concussion, left eye a little blurry, cheek shollen, sore neck and ribs. This has to stop before some innocent person get killed. I locked up in the Capitol until it’s safe
— Tim Carpenter (@TimCarpenterMKE) June 24, 2020
Protesters, however, said the lawmaker provoked them, the Journal Sentinel’s Lawrence Andrea reported.
In one photo of the melee, Carpenter, dressed in a blue T-shirt and shorts, is standing in the street and looks to be engaged in an animated conversation with at least two people. It is not clear what was said between Carpenter and the protesters before the situation turned violent.
Early Wednesday, Carpenter emailed The Post a short video he took of a large group of protesters. In the 10-second clip, several people start yelling and pointing in Carpenter’s direction before at least two rush over to him and appear to grab at his phone.
Following the assault, Carpenter was seen hunched over on the ground near his car. WKOW reporter Lance Veeser later tweeted that Carpenter “collapsed walking towards the Capitol.”
“We called paramedics. An ambulance is here now,” Veeser wrote, sharing an image of a man identified as Carpenter lying on his back surrounded by what looks like shrubbery.
On Tuesday, protesters took to the streets with renewed passion, outraged by the dramatic arrest of a black activist earlier in the day, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. Devonere Johnson, 28, was taken into custody after entering a restaurant in Madison’s Capitol Square area with a megaphone and baseball bat, according to the Journal. In videos of the arrest that circulated widely online, Johnson initially appeared to resist, resulting in a struggle with several officers. He ended up on his stomach on the ground with at least three officers holding him down.
The demonstrations started in the early afternoon and intensified well into the night as protesters smashed windows of public buildings near the state Capitol. They also pulled down two statues that stood outside the statehouse, including one of Col. Hans Christian Heg, a Norwegian immigrant and abolitionist who died fighting for the Union during the Civil War. Heg’s likeness was beheaded and thrown into a nearby lake, WKOW reported. The other statue torn from its base was a replica of Madison’s famed “Forward” statue, intended by its creator to be an “allegory of devotion and progress,” according to the Wisconsin Historical Society.
At least one local lawmaker condemned the protesters’ actions on Tuesday.
“This is absolutely despicable. I am saddened at the cowardice of Madison officials to deal with these thugs,” tweeted Wisconsin State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester). In the same tweet, Vos called out Gov. Tony Evers (D), asking, “are you going to finally do something about these protestors committing crimes on state property?”
Though police appeared to give the protesters a wide berth for most of the night, that changed shortly before 1 a.m. local time when more than a dozen officers in riot gear descended on the scene following reports that people were trying to break the windows and doors of the Capitol building, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
A line of officers faced off against the large group of protesters, reportedly about a hundred strong, as they chanted and ignored requests from the cops to disperse. In response to the protesters, the police repeatedly played a recorded message stating, “This is an unlawful gathering. Please leave the area immediately.”
More than an hour later, a stalwart group of about 50 people remained in the street and the line of officers had moved back a block from their original position, the Journal-Sentinel’s Andrea reported.
“They are playing music,” Andrea tweeted, referring to the protesters.