MILWAUKEE (AP) — Wisconsin’s governor put the National Guard on standby Sunday in case of another outbreak of violence in Milwaukee, after a deadly police shooting touched off a night of arson and rock-throwing in a mostly black neighborhood.
At least four businesses were burned and an officer was hurt by a thrown brick in the unrest that erupted on the city’s north side Saturday night a few hours after the killing of a black man who authorities say was armed and fleeing a traffic stop.
A Milwaukee alderman called the melee a warning from Black residents that they are “tired of living under this oppression.”
The dead man was identified by his mother as Sylville Smith, 23. The name and race of the officer who shot him were not immediately released.
“My son is gone due to the police killing my son,” Marilyn Haynes told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I am lost.”
Online court records showed a range of criminal charges against Smith, many of them misdemeanors, but also a 2015 felony charge of witness intimidation that was eventually dropped by prosecutors.
On Sunday morning, about three dozen volunteers swept up glass and filled trash bags with rocks, bricks and bottles at the intersection where a gas station burned to the ground. One volunteer picked up a bullet casing and handed it to police.
Darlene Rose, 31, said that she understands the anger that fueled the violence, but that it doesn’t help.
“I feel like if you’re going to make a difference, it’s got to be an organized difference,” Rose said. “The people that came and looted, you’re not going to see them here today.”
Three protesters were arrested in the violence.
The anger at Milwaukee police is not new and comes as tension between Black communities and law enforcement has ramped up across the nation, resulting in protests and the recent ambush killings of eight officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Dallas.
Milwaukee Alderman Khalif Rainey, who represents the neighborhood that erupted, said the city’s Black residents are “tired of living under this oppression.”
“Now this is a warning cry. Where do we go from here? Where do we go as a community from here?” he asked.
Nearly 40 percent of Milwaukee’s 600,000 residents are Black, and they are heavily concentrated on the north side.
Milwaukee was beset by protests and calls for police reform after an officer shot and killed Dontre Hamilton, a mentally ill Black man, in 2014.
In December, the U.S. Justice Department announced it would work with Milwaukee police on changes.
Critics said the police department should have been subjected to a full Justice Department investigation like the one done in Ferguson, Missouri, after the killing of Black 18-year-old Michael Brown in 2014 touched off violence there.
The weekend shooting in Milwaukee is under investigation. The mayor said the officer was wearing a body camera.
Mayor Tom Barrett said police stopped the motorist for what the mayor described only as “suspicious activity.” Police said the man was carrying a gun that had been stolen in a burglary in March.
“There were 23 rounds in that gun that that officer was staring at,” the mayor said. “I want to make sure we don’t lose any police officers in this community, either.”
The 24-year-old officer was put on desk duty. He has been with the Milwaukee department six years, three as an officer, authorities said.
At one point Saturday evening, as many as 100 protesters massed at 44th Street and Auer Avenue, surging against a line of 20 to 30 officers.
The Journal Sentinel reported that some in the crowd started smashing a squad car’s windows. Another police car was set on fire. The newspaper said one of its reporters was shoved to the ground and punched.
In addition to the gas station, a bank, an auto parts store and a beauty supply shop were burned. Firefighters held back from the gas station blaze because of gunfire.
Associated Press writer Kyle Potter contributed to this report from Minneapolis.