Arizona National Guard troops deploying to Jacob Blake protests in Wisconsin

Law enforcement hold a line on Aug. 25, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisc. As the city declared a state of emergency curfew, a third night of civil unrest occurred after the shooting of Jacob Blake, 29, on August 23. Video shot of the incident appears to show Blake shot multiple times in the back by Wisconsin police officers while attempting to enter the drivers side of a vehicle. Photo by Brandon Bell | Getty Images

Arizona is sending National Guard troops to Wisconsin to help restore order after several nights of protests, riots and shootings that left two protesters dead following the shooting of a Black man by a police officer in the city of Kenosha.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, announced on Thursday that Alabama, Arizona and Michigan are sending National Guard troops to Kenosha, where Wisconsin troops have been deployed since Monday. The Arizona troops are going to Wisconsin under an interstate mutual aid agreement and have not been federalized, according to Evers’s office.

Gov. Doug Ducey’s office said the Arizona National Guard has activated and will send 150 troops from its 850th Military Police Battalion to Wisconsin. The troops are expected to arrive in Wisconsin on Friday.

“In the United States, we hold sacred the First Amendment rights of citizens to protest and assemble peacefully, as well as the safety and security of all of our citizens,” Ducey said in a press statement. “Over the summer, the Arizona National Guard provided effective support to state and local law enforcement keeping the peace in Arizona communities. We support public safety, everywhere — and we stand ready to support Wisconsin now in their time of need.”

Evers has already deployed 500 Wisconsin National Guard troops to Kenosha, and the Trump administration has sent FBI agents to the city, though the governor rejected the president’s officer of agents from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 

National Guard troops “are serving in a support role to assist civil authorities in preserving public safety and individuals’ ability to exercise their First Amendment rights to assemble peaceably,” Evers said in a written statement.

On Wednesday, a teenaged Blue Lives Matter advocate was arrested and charged with first-degree murder for shooting the two protesters dead with an assault rifle and wounding a third. Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, allegedly shot the protesters the night before after showing up as part of an armed militia group that aimed to “protect” the city. Video posted on social media appeared to show Rittenhouse fleeing from the scene.

The unrest in Kenosha erupted after a police officer on Sunday shot Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, several times in the back as officers attempted to arrest him in response to a domestic disturbance. Officer Rusten Sheksey fired at Blake seven times, hitting him with four bullets as he attempted to enter his vehicle against officers’ orders.

Blake survived, but is paralyzed and is still in critical condition, according to his family.

This story has been updated to include comments from Gov. Doug Ducey.