The Crusader Newspaper Group

Milwaukee shaken by eruption of violence after shooting by police

By Kay Nolan And Niraj Chokshi,

Like many of his neighbors, Dominic A. Lebourgeois was in disbelief on Sunday at the level of violence that descended on his Sherman Park neighborhood the previous evening.

“I’ve lived here for 30 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” said Mr. Lebourgeois, 53, a self-employed handyman.

Hours after a police officer shot and killed a fleeing armed man, angry crowds confronted the police and then went on a rampage, destroying property, setting fires and throwing rocks and other missiles at officers. At least half a dozen businesses, including a gas station and an auto parts shop, were destroyed.

“I think it’s crazy, it’s ludicrous,” Mr. Lebourgeois said. “These are the stores we shop in. I got a feeling they’re going to move instead of rebuild.”

The violence reignited on Sunday night when the police said gunfire erupted during disorderly protests at three different intersections in the predominantly black neighborhood of Sherman Park.

Protesters pelted officers with debris, the department said, and at least one person was shot. Police officers used an armored vehicle to extricate the victim from the crowd and take that person to a nearby hospital.

Around midnight, the Police Department said on Twitter that it was “working to restore order” in the area. “The National Guard has not been called to the areas of disturbance,” it said.

Milwaukee Officials Plead for Calm After Unrest Wracks City AUG. 13, 2016
Earlier in the day, neighborhood volunteers cleaned up the debris left in the aftermath of the previous night’s unrest. But the neighborhood and city remained on edge.

Gov. Scott Walker declared a state of emergency and activated the Wisconsin National Guard to aid local law enforcement, if needed. The Milwaukee Police Department and Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office planned to deploy additional personnel, Police Chief Edward A. Flynn said at a news conference on Sunday.

During that appearance, Chief Flynn identified the shooting victim as Sylville K. Smith, a 23-year-old African-American. Police officials and Mayor Tom Barrett said that a video taken by a police body camera showed that Mr. Smith was armed with a handgun at the time he was shot.

Chief Flynn also confirmed that the 24-year-old officer who shot Mr. Smith was black, but he did not release the officer’s name.

“He happens to be African-American, with several years of experience, and he’s a very active officer,” Chief Flynn said. “And we are concerned for his safety.”

Saturday’s shooting and the subsequent outburst came as communities across the nation scrutinize what many see as the excessive use of force by law enforcement, particularly against black people.

In Sherman Park on Sunday, many expressed similar concerns of overly aggressive policing.

Mr. Lebourgeois said that he did not condone violence and that he advocated cooperation with the police, but he also remarked: “It seems to me they’re doing a lot of shooting people. I don’t know if these guys are bringing it on themselves or not. That’s why I just try to stay out of the way. But I know nothing like this is happening on the south side.”

On Sunday afternoon, about 100 people, most of them black, held a peaceful demonstration — holding hands and praying — in front of O’Reilly Auto Parts, one of the burned-out businesses.


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