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Wisconsin law enforcement groups ask Evers, Barnes to stop making statements on Kenosha

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Posted at 1:08 PM, Aug 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-27 23:56:31-04

MADISON (NBC 26) -- Wisconsin law enforcement groups have asked Governor Tony Evers and Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes to stop making statements on the situation in Kenosha in a public letter yesterday.

"The purpose of this letter is to respectfully ask that those in your administration discontinue and refrain from making statements and issuing press releases specific to the City of Kenosha Police involved shooting until the facts of the investigation are known," the letter says.

The letter was signed by the presidents of the Wisconsin Badger State Sheriff’s Association, Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association, Wisconsin Sheriff's and Deputy Sheriff's Association and Wisconsin Police Executive Group.

The letter states the previous statements made by the Governor and Lt. Governor were "premature, judgmental, inflammatory and only add to the anger and divisiveness of an already dangerous situation."

Badger State Sheriff's Association President Mark Podoll said that the letter was discussed and voted on in a 9:30 a.m. conference call with sheriffs across Wisconsin on Wednesday. The letter was then presented to the Governor's office, where they arranged a phone call between Governor Evers, Sheriff Podoll and other law enforcement representatives. Podoll communicated that he would publish the letter publicly and send to all sheriffs departments by noon.

"We expressed our concerns to the governor, he listened to us," Podoll said. "He said, at the end, he heard us, but we have different opinions."

"I felt that he put gas on a fire that erupted when our officers were going in to a very hostile situation," Podoll told NBC 26 about Governor Evers' statements and tweets as the DOJ investigation continues.

"I see nothing wrong with stating the facts. And the facts are pretty clear in this situation," Governor Evers responded in a press conference on Thursday in Kenosha. "An African-American man who was shot seven or eight times in the back as he was attempting to get in to his car -- and that's what I said. I also said that there's an ongoing investigation where the Department of Justice and Attorney General that have other facts that I assume will come out."

Governor Evers had previously condemned the shooting of Jacob Blake, comparing it to the shootings of other Black Americans. The shooting of Jacob Blake has sparked protests in Kenosha, and other cities in the country, some of which have lead to violent unrest. Two people were killed following a shooting earlier this week during one of the protests in Kenosha.

"A continued pattern of statements and press releases based on opinion and unsubstantiated claims puts people’s lives at risk. These are not peaceful protests. There have already been two deaths and many injuries," the letter states.

The letter calls for Governor Evers to "call for an end to these riots and a stop to the violence."