PHOTOS: Aftermath of violent protests on Capitol grounds

By: - June 24, 2020 2:32 pm

The pedestal that held a statue of Colonel Hans Heg. (Henry Redman | Wisconsin Examiner)

The morning after protests against racial injustice turned violent — with a state senator being attacked, a molotov cocktail being thrown into a government building and two statues outside the Capitol building torn down — cleanup crews were out and Republican legislators branded the protesters as violent “terrorists.”

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) at the microphone, Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) on the right and Rep. Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva) on the left, speak with the media Wednesday morning. (Henry Redman | Wisconsin Examiner)

One of the statues torn down was of Colonel Hans Christian Heg, an immigrant from Norway who became an abolitionist and died fighting for the Union in the Civil War. The statue of Heg was torn down and dragged into Lake Monona.

The Colonel Heg statue’s pedestal, painted with the phrase “Fire Matt Kenny.” Kenny is a Madison police officer who shot and killed 19-year-old Tony Robinson in 2015. (Henry Redman | Wisconsin Examiner)

The other torn down statue represents Wisconsin’s “Forward” motto. The artist, Jean Pond Miner, described her as an allegory of devotion and progress. It was installed 125 years ago and later replaced with a bronze replica.

On Wednesday, the pedestals of both statues had been painted with graffiti, much of it targeting government officials or police officers. Someone had also placed a bouquet of flowers on the Forward statue’s pedestal.

The “Forward” statue’s pedestal, bearing a bouquet of flowers. (Henry Redman | Wisconsin Examiner)

In addition to the statues, Senator Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee) was assaulted after taking a video of protesters.

I took this pic- it got me assaulted & beat up. Punched/kicked in the head, neck, ribs. Maybe concussion, socked in left eye is little blurry, sore neck & ribs. 8-10 people attacked me. Innocent people are going to get killed. Capitol locked- stuck in office.Stop violence now Plz!” Carpenter wrote on Twitter.

Colonel Heg
The statue pedestal of Col. Hans Heg, with the graffiti “Black is Beautiful” that had been scratched out with chalk. (Henry Redman | Wisconsin Examiner)

Republican Assembly leaders Robin Vos, Jim Steineke and Tyler August held a news conference on the steps of the Capitol Wednesday, facing State Street and what was left of the “Forward” statue.

Assembly Speaker Vos (R-Rochester), invoked the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. as he called for protests to practice nonviolence, saying that the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s did not use violence as a method.

In a statement on Twitter, Vos had called the protesters “thugs” and at the news conference, Steineke referred to them as “terrorists.”

Vos answers questions from the media. (Henry Redman | Wisconsin Examiner)

While Vos’ statement ignores the fact that King was often criticized for inciting violence — and his words echo those of the Alabama clergy whose letter prompted King’s famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” — he also said he believes there is common ground to be found and potential for action on the issue of racial injustice and police violence.

Vos added in an interview after the news conference that there would not likely be any type of session any time soon, and that any session would need to be “well thought out” and “comprehensive.”

The Dane County Public Safety Building, with boarded up doors. (Henry Redman | Wisconsin Examiner)

Graffiti on the pedestal of the Col. Heg statue. (Henry Redman | Wisconsin Examiner)

Chalk on the sidewalk near the Dane County Courthouse. (Henry Redman | Wisconsin Examiner)


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Henry Redman
Henry Redman

Henry Redman is a staff reporter for the Wisconsin Examiner who focuses on covering Wisconsin's towns and rural areas. He previously covered crime and courts at the Daily Jefferson County Union. A lifelong Midwesterner, he was born in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a degree in journalism in May 2019.