Violent Protesters Riot, Burn Cars, Loot Buildings In Milwaukee After Police Kill Armed Suspect

Following an unstable few weeks of calm between police and US inner city minorities, violence and riots returned to the US when protesters fired gunshots, hurled bricks and set a gas station on fire on Milwaukee’s north side on Saturday night, hours after a patrol officer shot and killed an armed suspect who took flight after a traffic stop. The 23-year-old suspect, who had a lengthy arrest record, was carrying a stolen handgun loaded with 23 rounds of ammunition when police pulled over the vehicle for unspecified “suspicious activity,” authorities said cited by Reuters. A second suspect who fled from the vehicle was quickly taken into custody.

Protesters set a police car ablaze and fires broke out at gas station, an auto parts store and at least three other businesses, officials and local media reported. “Our city is in turmoil tonight,” said Alderman Ashanti Hamilton, president of the Milwaukee Common Council. Mayor Tom Barrett appealed for calm.

“This is a neighborhood that has been unfortunately affected by violence in the recent past,” Barrett said, referring to a smaller disturbance a month earlier. “There are a lot of really, really good people who live in this area … and can’t stand this violence.”

The night’s series of events started shortly after 7:00pm local time, when police said a Milwaukee officer has shot and killed an armed man during a foot chase. Capt. Mark Stanmeyer says officers stopped a car with two people inside Saturday. He said the pair got out of the car and ran and that the officers chased them.

The 23-year-old man who was one of the people fleeing was armed with a handgun and was shot by an officer during the pursuit. The man’s name wasn’t immediately released. Stanmeyer says the man died at the scene. He says the handgun was determined to be stolen. The 24-year-old officer who shot him was promptly placed on administrative duty during the investigation. The officer’s name wasn’t immediately released.

Around 10 pm local time, clashes broke out when the police said one police officer was being treated after he was hit in the head by a brick through a squad car window.

By 11:15 pm the protests grew violent, as some 100 protesters skirmished with officers Saturday night. Police said in a tweet that officers were moving into an intersection and asking the crowd to disperse peacefully, but rocks were being thrown at officers. The department said in earlier tweets that one officer was injured by a thrown brick, a squad car had its windows smashed and another one was set on fire.

Just before midnight, a bank on Milwaukee’s north side was been set ablaze in continuing unrest following the fatal shooting of a man by police. Smoke could be seen billowing from The BMO Harris branch a few blocks away.

It was at least the fourth building to burn, following a BP gas station, an O’Reilly Auto Parts store and a beauty supply store. Footage from a news helicopter also appeared to show a small grocery store had been looted. A traffic signal was also bent and bus shelters overturned.

By midnight, Milwaukee officials were asking the community for help restoring order on the city’s north side. Mayor Tom Barrett implored the parents of any children at the scene to “get them home right now.” Alderman Ashanti Hamilton promised to get information about the shooting to the public. “Please allow the process to work,” he said.

Then around 12:30 pm,  during a news conference, Barrett said the north side was finally calming down after the latest night of inner city violence. Police mounted at least two efforts to push the protesters out of an intersection at the heart of the violence.

The unrest follows peaceful protests and some violence in U.S. cities over the past two years following high-profile killings by law enforcement officers in Baltimore, New York and Ferguson, Missouri. Outrage over police violence toward minority groups has given rise to the Black Lives Matter movement and touched off a national debate over the race issue and policing in the United States.

“This is a warning cry,” Milwaukee Alderman Khalif Rainey said. “Black people of Milwaukee are tired. They are tired of living under this oppression.”

As of 1 a.m. Central time, police said three arrests had been made in connection with the unrest. Shortly after 2 a.m. police said they were restoring order to the area and reducing deployments, but local news footage also showed a liquor store in flames just minutes before the release of the statement.


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