Protests erupted late Saturday and lasted well past midnight following the death of another person at the hands of police. Milwaukee Police Department reports that the victim, who was armed, was stopped in a car for “suspicious activity” and was then pursued on foot. Reportedly the two officers instructed the man to drop his weapon and one of them fired an unknown number of shots when he failed to do so. The man died at the scene.
A protest organized through social media grew to approximately 100 people and resulted in the burning of at least 4 local businesses and the injury of one police officer when a brick was thrown through a patrol car window.
The police department has placed the officer on administrative leave pending investigation. They report that he was wearing a body camera at the time of the shooting.
There has been no official identification of the victim, but the protests and social media indicate that he was black.
Some business owners and other residents indicate that they believe the property damage was perpetrated by “outsiders.” Many are discussing the immense racial disparity the community has experienced historically.
City Alderman Khalif Rainey stated that the city of Milwaukee has become “the worst place for African Americans to live in the entire country.”
Many in the area called for the city to submit to a review like the one that took place in Baltimore, Maryland after a mentally ill black man was killed by police in 2014.
The Baltimore review uncovered patterns of racism, sexism and unconstitutional/illegal practices in the police department. It speaks to a problem in police departments across the country where racial profiling and a lack of accountability for bad policing are now a nationally recognized problem.
The Milwaukee Mayor called for parents to get their kids home around midnight, indicating the still active protestors. His language was guilting and manipulative, “If you love your son or daughter…get them home before more damage is done.”
Reportedly, only 3 arrests were made and the protests dissipated before morning. Volunteers were out cleaning up the area Sunday morning.
The riots hearken to the ones in Ferguson, Missouri following the killing of teenager Michael Brown, as well as countless other protests throughout recent decades in response to police brutality against black people. While the damaging of property is unfortunate, the anger and unrest is understandable as reports continue to roll in of officers killing people of color and people in general. One day last week saw the killing of a 14 year old boy and a 73 year old woman.