Wisconsin’s two U.S. senators, Republican Ron Johnson and Democrat Tammy Baldwin, have issued a joint statement asking outsiders not to exploit the parade tragedy in Waukesha last weekend for their “own political purposes.”
“It has come to our attention that outside individuals or groups may attempt to exploit the tragedy that occurred last Sunday in Waukesha for their own political purposes,” they said in a joint statement on Saturday.
“As the U.S. Senators representing Wisconsin, one from each political party, we are asking anyone considering such action to cease and desist,” the rare joint statement continued.
Johnson is up for reelection next year but has yet to formally announce whether he is running; Baldwin comes up for reelection in 2024. It’s not clear who the statement was directed at, The Hill reported.
The statement comes after Darrell Brooks, 39, was charged on Tuesday with killing five people and injuring more than 60 others after he allegedly drove an SUV into marchers and spectators at a Christmas parade in the Wisconsin city last Sunday. A sixth victim, an 8-year-old boy, died of his injuries on Tuesday; prosecutors expect to add his death to Brooks’ lengthy list of charges.
In their statement, Johnson and Baldwin noted that the “top priority” for local officials “is to begin the healing process within Waukesha by providing comfort and support to surviving family members of the deceased, and those injured both in body and spirit.”
“They must also conduct a thorough investigation and afford the accused full due process. These will not be easy tasks, and will be made even more difficult if conducted within a politically charged atmosphere,” they added.
“We ask everyone to demonstrate their interest and concern by praying for the victims, their families, and the entire community of Waukesha,” they said.
The senators did not issue a joint statement after the incidents and trial involving Kyle Rittenhouse and the city of Kenosha. The teen was found not guilty of all charges, including two for murder, earlier this month. Rittenhouse argued that he shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounded 27-year-old Gaige Grosskruetz, in self-defense.
As for the parade incident, witnesses described chaotic and deadly scenes, many of which were captured on video.
“There were pompoms and shoes and spilled hot chocolate everywhere,” said Corey Montiho, a Waukesha school board member and parent, in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “I had to go from one crumpled body to the other to find my daughter. My wife and two daughters were almost hit.
Other witnesses reported hearing gunshots, but those turned out to be from a Waukesha police officer who was attempting to stop the vehicle as it tore through crowds and marchers.
Among those killed were members of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies.
After Brooks was arrested, reports noted that he is a career criminal with multiple misdemeanor and felony arrests and convictions. At the time of the parade attack, Brooks was out on an extremely light bond of $1,000 over charges that he punched the mother of his child and then struck her with his vehicle.
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