State examines funds spent on emergency deployment to Floyd protests

    Protesters gather in Kenosha the second night of protests on August 24th, 2020. This was before the clashes with police later that night. (Photo by Isiah Holmes)
    Protesters gather in Kenosha the second night of protests on August 24th, 2020. This was before the clashes with police later that night. (Photo by Isiah Holmes)

    The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) was set to examine requests made by the Department of Military Affairs to increase the amount of money spent as a result of an Interstate Emergency Management Compact (EMAC). In this case, the increase of $59,375 for the 2021 fiscal year stemmed from an EMAC request made by Minnesota to respond to potential civil unrest related to the George Floyd protests of 2020.

    EMAC orders help organize and streamline emergency responses across states They are often used in natural disasters and can include law enforcement, fire personnel and the National Guard. EMAC requests are also made in response to ongoing civil unrest or potential unrest. In 2016, Wisconsin law enforcement officers were deployed to North Dakota to quell indigenous-led protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline.With similar tensions now heating up in Minnesota over the Line 3 pipeline, EMAC requests have gained renewed attention.

    In May 2020, Minnesota’s governor also issued an EMAC request due to the unrest that followed the killing of George Floyd. Gov. Tim Walz declared an emergency on May 28, 2020, and requested “six Type 2 law enforcement mobile field force teams and 27 personnel with equipment to assist with the response to civil unrest,” according to a legislative document. Some 15 Wisconsin State Patrol were sent to Minnesota to support the EMAC request at a total cost of $59,375. Under existing statutes, Minnesota will have to reimburse the State of Wisconsin for the deployment.

    The legislative document covering the expenses made for the Minnesota deployment notes a variety of ways EMAC has been used. “It enables states to share resources during natural and man-made disasters, including terrorism. EMAC has also been used by states to disrupt legal protests.” In the case of the Floyd deployment, Wisconsin personnel returned home on June 6, 2020.

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    Isiah Holmes
    Isiah Holmes is a journalist and videographer, and a lifelong resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Holmes' video work dates back to his high school days at Wauwatosa East High, when he made a documentary about the local police department. Since then, his writing has been featured in Urban Milwaukee, Isthmus, Milwaukee Stories, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Services, Pontiac Tribune, and other outlets.