For a second night, violent protests rock Milwaukee over police shooting

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MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin -- For a second night, protests in Milwaukee over the police shooting of an armed African-American man turned violent as demonstrators fired shots and hurled objects, injuring at least two people early Monday, police said.

One victim was shot during the Monday unrest and rushed to a hospital in an armored vehicle. A police officer was injured and also taken to the hospital after a rock broke the windshield of a squad car, according to Milwaukee Police.

Vehicle engulfed in flames near 45th and Hadley early Monday morning

Vehicle engulfed in flames near 45th and Hadley early Monday morning

The death of Sylville Smith, 23, triggered unrest hours after his killing on Saturday as protesters torched six businesses, including a gas station, burned cars and threw rocks at officers. During the first night of protests, four officers were injured and 17 people were arrested, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said.

Protests resumed Sunday and carried into early Monday morning as protesters began swarming a Milwaukee police station, blocking the street.

Later on, shots rang out in three different locations, all within close proximity, according to police. A squad car was pelted with bricks, rocks and glass bottles. Another car was also set aflame during Monday's fracas.

Police moved in to arrest several protesters and by 2:30 a.m. local time, reported that it was restoring order to a hot spot in a northern Milwaukee neighborhood.

The turbulent weekend prompted Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to declare a state of emergency on Sunday. But the National Guard was not deployed Monday as local police sought to restore order.

What happened in the shooting

The incident began when a pair of police officers stopped Smith and another person in a car on Saturday about 3:30 p.m., police said. The men fled the car and the officers followed, shooting Smith in the arm and chest when he failed to put his gun down, Barrett said.

The handgun, along with 500 rounds of ammunition, were stolen during a burglary in nearby Waukesha in March, police said.

Police body camera footage showed Smith holding a handgun during the encounter, Barrett said at a Sunday news conference. Police said the officer shot Smith after he failed to comply with orders to put his gun down. His gun was loaded with 23 rounds, more than the officer was carrying.

Smith died at the scene, and the African-American officer who fired the fatal shots was not injured. The unidentified officer is 24 years old and has six years of service with the Milwaukee Police Department -- three as an officer. He will be placed on administrative duty during an investigation.

The shooting occurred near the location of an August 9 double homicide in which a man was shot dead and another was fatally stabbed, police said.

 

Smith's sister, Kimberly Neal, remembered a brother who "kept it real," a high school graduate who played basketball, a contrast to "the man with a lengthy arrest record" described by police.

"He should have been tased, if anything," she said. "We want everybody to feel our pain."

Although the National Guard was activated in response to the unrest, it will not be deployed unless authorized by Milwaukee police chief Edward Flynn, Barrett said. By state law, the Wisconsin Department of Justice will lead the investigation.

Residents try to heal after intense weekend

Sunday evening had initially begun peacefully as residents had gathered to mourn Smith as his family and friends held a candlelight vigil at the site of Saturday's shooting in a residential area of North Milwaukee. At one point, the crowd chanted "ready for war," followed by a a chant of "peace, peace, peace."

Smith's sister, Sherelle Smith, condemned violence carried out in her brother's name, saying the community needs those businesses.

"Don't bring that violence here," Kimberly Neal, another sister, said, sobbing as she lamented that she would never be able to again hug her brother.

Residents also came into the streets with trash bags, brooms and shovels to sweep up the debris from burnt down businesses.

Tensions on Sunday gave way to prayers as activists gathered to call for peace.

A group of about 100 gathered at the park near a BP gas station that was burned during Saturday's protests. Crowds ebbed and flowed at the station throughout Sunday; as night fell, community and church leaders led a prayer circle and spoke of a community that needs healing from ongoing "racism, injustices and oppression."

'Racial problems' in Milwaukee

City Alderman Khalif Rainey said the area has been a "powder keg" for potential violence throughout the summer.

"What happened tonight may not have been right and I am not justifying that but no one can deny the fact that there are problems, racial problems in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that need to be rectified," Rainey said. "This community of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has become the worst place to live for African-Americans in the entire country."

Rainey said Saturday's violence was a byproduct of inequities, injustice, unemployment and under-education.

"Something has to be done to address these issues," he said. "The black people of Milwaukee are tired; they are tired of living under this oppression, this is their life."

The Milwaukee mayor on Sunday said that the damage from Saturday's unrest was "unlike anything I've seen," he said. "I hope I never see it again."

"A young man lost his life yesterday afternoon. And, no matter what the circumstances, his family must be hurting."

20 comments

  • Chattipatti

    The sister said (see below) that they should riot further out and not in their neighboor good.

    “Burning down s*** ain’t going to help nothing,” Sherelle Smith said. “You’re all burning down s*** we need in our community. … You all want to hurt somebody, take that s*** farther out. Don’t bring it here. Don’t bring the violence here and the ignorance here. We need everything we [expletive] got.”

  • Opinion8d

    The problem can be traced right back to Obama. If any city would try and crack down harshly on this riots, the DOJ would be investigating every nook and cranny and take over the departments. Just go back to Ferguson -complained of discriminatory practices because more blacks got stopped/tickets. Then they complained how ‘militarized’ the police were and Obama was right there to agree with them. An absolute joke!!

  • Mark Veenendaal

    Just the thugs trying to create commotion so they can steal stuff while the cops are distracted. Call out the National Guard, declare a curfew with violators being shot on sight. That was done in Detroit in 1967, 7 people were killed and it was OVER.

    • Klaatu

      Like maybe the two weeks in July 1967 right here in Miltown that started on 3rd & Center with “protests’ and moved west with riots and fires?

  • Had ENOUGH!

    Wreck your neighborhood and then expect other people to clean up your mess.. typical. These will be the same people complaining in a few months that there’s no opportunity in the inner city… that business don’t want to open shop there. Of course they don’t.. they get robbed, burned down, looted… I’m surprised that BP station was still there after all it’s been through.

    You want to make a change in your neighborhood? How about electing some officials who will actually get things done for a change? Barrett’s press conferences an vigils aren’t helping… yet you keep voting him in. You keep doing the same thing expecting different results.

    You complain that the police aren’t trying to keep you safe… yet… that’s EXACTLY what they were doing when they shot this felon with a stolen gun in the first place! I wouldn’t want to be a cop… and after this weekend, I would bet there’s a lot of cops who originally went in to that line of work with the intention of helping the community who are now reevaluating their career decision. Who does that leave that want to be cops? Probably the power-hungry racists who just want to get out there and crack heads. You expect the police to protect you.. but when they do.. you call it oppression.

    No one bats an eye when there’s FIVE homicides the night before. Just another day in paradise. But once a cop pulls the trigger on an ARMED FELON, you burn down buildings. Then I turn on the news and I hear things like “rich people got all the money and they ain’t trying to give us none” and “beat up the white people!”

    Shut up and take some responsibility for your own actions.

    • Had Enough 2

      The media is a big part of the problem since they sensationalize and report in such a way as to build up the incident into a newsworthy story that they can then feed on for several days afterwards. As I watched this unfold on TV I heard two things from the local leadership, One was that most of the individuals who showed up later and burned and looted the stores were not even from the community where this took place. A tragedy worth reporting, that if reported properly would allow the reader to understand how it really happened. Community residents were victims here and the story should have been all about that. That never got reported by ANY news media. I specifically watched for it. All the other media outlets just repeated the same story. Instead, the media once again goes out of its way to associate this riot with others around the country trying to generate an even bigger story inflaming race relations that allows them to feed off that manufactured story for weeks on end. Another comment by an Alderman stated that people as well as local leadership needs to come together and talk about real solutions to the problems that are persistent in there community and actually DO SOMETHING about them rather than pay them political lip service to get elected. He is right.
      The media however never talks about the real problems. When they do, its sanitized through the Political Correctness filter which makes it impossible for a reader to understand what the incident was all about. They say things like “The police were pursuing a suspect of interest when shots were fired by a policeman after repeated requests for the individual to put the gun down.” What the hell does that mean? Why don’t they call a duck a duck and then maybe we’d all understand what is going on in that part of the city! What actually happened without the “PC Filter” is this: An armed man was approached by police when he openly displayed a handgun. The police reacted to protect the community and themselves by first asking the man to drop the gun. He did not comply and the man was shot. OK. Now I get it. The police are there for the safety of the public and an armed man openly displaying a handgun is a threat to public safety. I don’t need to see footage from a body camera to see that the cops here were doing the right thing and had just cause to question the man in the first place.

  • InformedTopic

    Correct the people rioting should be mad. Of course they are indirectly involved, all should be mad. Why I say? Because they are allowing the man to bring them down. Don’t allow this I say. Stand up and really be counted. Do something about this I say. Learn from the mistakes I say. Do not pass it on to the future generations stop the madness I say. Stop pointing the figure on the other side of the fence it is not always as green as it looks.

  • Opinion8d

    I haven’t seen one news report about looting of the gas station before the fire, the looking of a mobile phone store, or that they were pulling people from their car and beating them up. Why are we censoring the real story!?!?!?!

  • Me

    No no no. The sisters comments went well beyond her saying keep the violence out of her neighborhood. She stated to take the violence out to the suburbs and do it there. Funny how that failed to get reported. But what would you expect from the stupid media

  • Delise

    I am African American and to see this video makes my stomach hurt why are you beating up white people they did not do anything to you. they did nothing but help clean your community up they listen to you on Sunday, they prayed for you, they gave you water so that you were okay outside and this is what you do to people not cool at all. And did you all for get that a white cop did not kill this individual a black cop did so why are you so argue at whites for I am not understanding. I am so glad I was blessed with a great job that my kids don’t have to grow up and see this garbage. That I can afford to live in a nice neighborhood and raise my kids and for them not to be afraid.

  • Julie Perkins

    “This community of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has become the worst place to live for African-Americans in the entire country.” “Something has to be done to address these issues,” he said. “The black people of Milwaukee are tired; they are tired of living under this oppression, this is their life.” Rainey said Saturday’s violence was a byproduct of inequities, injustice, unemployment and under-education.

    Well…Mr. Rainey…These same people are the ones that are CHOOSING to do wrong; CHOOSING not to further their education; CHOOSING violence; CHOOSING to be products of the environment they were raised in. THEY are the ones that can make a change for the better if they CHOOSE to!!! Stop placing the blame on others (Police brutality, etc) and point the finger to the root of the problem which is themselves!!!

    • betyathiswasmarxists

      Been to Milwaukee lately? I have walked some of the “bad neighborhoods” and I see more people interested in drugs, or just a handout, or a “good time” than in education or bettering themselves. What you see is what you get: a bunch of people just pissed off they can’t do wrong without police showing up. We can take the police out and cut off all of their welfare checks if that’s what they want. It would be the best thing that ever happened. I think very highly of the police. What other kind of person can stand there and protect a bunch of “black lives matter” protesters while they scream, “Pigs in a blanket, fry them like bacon” and hate in their very faces and yet still stand there and protect them in their neighborhoods and during their half hour to two hours of HATE?? Seriously that takes a WHOLE LOT of GUMPTION, KINDNESS, SENSE OF DUTY, and PERSEVERANCE given those same people hate your guts. What a GREAT bunch of people…the POLICE I mean. I’m not sure I could hold my cool while 50-100 people scream hate at me for 30 minutes to two hours every few days.

  • betyathiswasmarxists

    The real pushers of violence are the radical marxists. They will do anything to start a protest or a riot. This has all the overtones of the Milwaukee riots of 1967. At that time, fires, vandalism, violence and looting were all over the neighborhood where it started, Two officers were shot, one was blinded, an elderly Black man died in a house fire deliberately started by protesters, property damage was everywhere and a lot of people, both innocent bystanders/neighbors and police were injured. And no one was able to even point to any cause to that riot. A lot of black witnesses that had been injured that were not even involved in it told police that it “just seemed to happen.” But nothing ever “just happens”, it has a cause, and if these idiots think Smith’s death is a “cause”, then even for the BLM movement that’s barking up the wrong tree. Given it’s similarity to the 1967 “summer of love” riots and 70’s riots, I would say this is at least partly fueled by anarchist radicals. It looks just like the things we used to see as kids in the 1970s. The radicals never really went away, they are still in the woodwork and some of them are now in charge of parts of our government and would like nothing more than to see MORE of this.

  • betyathiswasmarxists

    Anyone been to Milwaukee lately? I have walked some of the “bad neighborhoods” and I see more people interested in drugs, or just a handout, or a “good time” than in education or bettering themselves. What you see is what you get: a bunch of people just pissed off they can’t do wrong without police showing up. We can take the police out and cut off all of their welfare checks if that’s what they want. It would be the best thing that ever happened. I think very highly of the police. What other kind of person can stand there and protect a bunch of “black lives matter” protesters while they scream, “Pigs in a blanket, fry them like bacon” and hate in their very faces and yet still stand there and protect them in their neighborhoods and during their half hour to two hours of HATE?? Seriously that takes a WHOLE LOT of GUMPTION, KINDNESS, SENSE OF DUTY, and PERSEVERANCE given those same people hate your guts. What a GREAT bunch of people…the POLICE I mean. I’m not sure I could hold my cool while 50-100 people scream hate at me for 30 minutes to two hours every few days.

  • docmund

    I hope the people take up arms tonight and put down the threats to your life and safety. You should shoot and kill anybody trying to burn buildings, there could be a family or workers trapped inside. We can’t have this, shoot any protester you believe is threatening the lives of others. We have to do this ourselves.

  • Sheila Moyet

    Barrett has totally failed Milwaukee. Much of this is his fault because he is more concerned with kissing butt, cheesing for the camera and making empty speeches than he is actually doing his job. These maniacs took to the streets and burned, looted and destroyed because they knew they could get away with it. They know that Barrett has no backbone and won’t step up and take action. Barrett is so busy trying to be the “Great White Hope” that the city has become a cesspool of crime and violence. He is so afraid of offending the black community that the thugs have taken over our streets. Barrett doesn’t run Milwaukee…blacks run Milwaukee.

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