“Our community is in pain:” Ald. Stamper shares thoughts, emotional text from friend after violent disturbance
MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Alderman Russell Stamper took the podium after Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton spoke on the violent disturbance near Sherman and Auer on the city’s north side late Saturday, August 13th and into Sunday.
Angry crowds took to the streets in Milwaukee on Saturday night to protest the shooting death of an armed man by a police officer hours earlier.
Protesters burned several stores and threw rocks at police in the city’s north side, leaving one officer injured. Smoke and orange flames filled the night sky.
Stamper told reporters, "Our community is in pain." He took time to read part of what a friend had texted him during the evening. That friend said in a text, "I'm fighting tears right now." The friend's text indicated people are taking these actions because "they feel like they can't do anything else." Stamper's friend also texted, "We haven't been doing enough. Everybody is playing (expletive) politics -- and nobody is playing life." Stamper's response to his friend was, "Exactly."
Stamper said the actions seen late Saturday come from helplessness -- and the voters put people like him in office to help. Stamper stated he was going to "put resources in this budget" and "partner with people who want to make a difference.
Milwaukee Alderman Khalif Rainey echoed Stamper's thoughts -- and shared some of his own. In particular, Rainey said, "Something has to be done." He said "No one can deny the fact that there are problems, racial problems in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that need to be rectified."
The unrest broke out hours after an officer shot a man who police say fled a traffic stop.
It happened Saturday afternoon, when a pair of police officers stopped two people driving through the north-side neighborhood, police said. That led to a foot chase between the people in the car and police, which ended when an officer shot one of the two -- a 23-year-old man who was armed with a handgun, authorities said.
The police officer "ordered that individual to drop his gun, the individual did not drop his gun," Barrett said during a news conference later in the day. "He had the gun with him and the officer fired several times."
The man died at the scene. It was unclear Sunday morning whether the second occupant of the car was in police custody. The officer who fired the fatal shots was not injured and will be placed on administrative duty during an investigation.
The officer who fired the deadly shots is 24 years old and has six years of service with the Milwaukee Police Department -- three as an officer. Police provided no further details on the identities of the officer or the occupants of the car.
The officer was wearing a body camera at the time of the shooting, Barrett said.
The unidentified suspect was shot twice, in the arm and chest, the mayor said. The handgun he carried had been stolen during a burglary in nearby Waukesha in March, according to police.
"The victim of that burglary reported 500 rounds of ammunition were also stolen with the handgun," police said.
Multiple buildings and businesses were set on fire late Saturday/early Sunday. Those businesses included the BP gas station at Sherman and Burleigh, Jet Beauty at 35th and Fond du Lac, BMO Harris Bank at 36th and Fond du Lac, O'Reilly Auto Parts at Fond du Lac and Burleigh and MJM Liquor at Fond du Lac and North. A traffic signal was also bent and bus shelters overturned. Also, police squads were damaged during the course of the night.
As the chaos escalated Saturday, the mayor pleaded with protesters to end their demonstrations.
"If you love your son, if you love your daughter, text them, call them, pull them by the ears and get them home. Get them home right now before more damage is done," the mayor said.
"I know this neighborhood very, very well. And there are a lot of really really good people who live in this area -- in the Sherman Park area, who can't stand this violence."
At 3:20 a.m. Sunday, police tweeted they were restoring order and "reducing deployments."
Local officials planned to meet with church and community leaders Sunday to discuss ways to move forward.