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Whitmer sending Michigan National Guard to help during Wisconsin protests

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has authorized two Michigan National Guard companies to provide support in Wisconsin as that state faces protests after the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

Whitmer made the authorization at the request of Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, she said in a Thursday press release. The National Guard companies are not federalized, and Whitmer can call them back to Michigan at any time, the press release said.

Michigan State Police in riot gear form a line behind the Michigan National Guard. Protestors confront military and police presence in downtown Grand Rapids on June 1, 2020 over the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day.

"I am confident that our guardsmen and women will work hard to keep our neighbors in Wisconsin safe while working to protect their First Amendment rights to peaceful assembly," the governor said in a statement.

Blake, a Black man, was injured after being shot in the back by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday, igniting protests in the state.

On Wednesday, a 17-year-old from Illinois killed two demonstrators and wounded a third, according to the Associated Press.

Evers requested other states bring additional National Guard troops, equipment and resources to Kenosha to support civil authorities there under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, his office said Thursday.

National Guard troops from Arizona and Alabama will also add to Wisconsin National Guard troops already on the ground in Kenosha, the Wisconsin governor's office said.

Like other states, Michigan has faced a summer of protests after the killing of George Floyd in police custody in late May in Minneapolis.

"The Michigan National Guard is always ready to support civil authorities when requested to assist," said Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, adjutant general and director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. "The men and women of the Michigan National Guard are well trained, equipped, and ready to assist our neighbors and emergency response partners in Wisconsin to protect people, their property, and their right to peacefully protest."

cmauger@detroitnews.com