MILWAUKEE, Aug. 14 (UPI) — An angry crowd took to the streets of Milwaukee Saturday night after earlier in the day police shot and killed a fleeing man they believed to be armed.
A police officer shot the 23-year-old victim, who police say had a handgun, as he fled from a traffic stop. Hours later, violence broke out in the streets when large crowds smashed a police car and set fire to a second one, NBC reported.
One officer on the scene was injured when hit by a flying brick and the crowd set fire to a gas station and an auto parts store.
Gunshots could be heard on the streets,restricting firefighters from reaching the blazes, police said. Fires were also set at a BMO Harris Bank branch and at a beauty supply store, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said. He held a midnight news conference to announce the carnage, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Barrett said there will be a strong police presence in the city over the next few days. He and Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton pleaded for calm.
“Our police officers are doing everything they can to restore order,” Barrett said, noting that the entire city needs to help restore peace.
Some involved in the violence reportedly took to social media Saturday night urging others to join the violence in the streets.
“If you love your son, if you love your daughter, text them, call them, pull them by their ears, get them home,” Barrett urged.
“Our city is in turmoil tonight,” Hamilton said, promising the city would conduct a full investigation into the the police-involved shooting.
“When we get information, we are going to share it with the public. Please allow the process to work,” Hamilton said.
At least 200 people were involved in the disturbances and three were arrested, Assistant Police Chief James Harpole said. He said numerous gunshots could be heard during the hours of unrest.
At one point during the street violence, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter and photographer were chased and the reporter was pushed to the ground and punched.
Alderman Khalif Rainey blamed the city for the unrest, calling it the worst place in America for African-Americans.
Rainey said Milwaukee’s Sherman Park became “a powder keg” this summer and said issues facing the city’s African-Americans must be addressed.
“This entire community has sat back and witnessed how Milwaukee, Wis., has become the worst place to live for African-Americans in the entire country,” he said. “Now this is a warning cry. Where do we go from here? Where do we go as a community from here?
“You’re one day away,” Rainey went on, unless problems of inequality in education and unemployment among the black community are addressed. “The black people of Milwaukee are tired. They’re tired of living under this oppression. This is their existence. This is their life. This is the life of their children.
“Now what has happened tonight may have not been right; I’m not justifying that. But no one can deny the fact that there’s problems, racial problems, here in Milwaukee, Wis., that have to be closely, not examined, but rectified,” Rainey said. “Rectify this immediately. Because if you don’t, this vision of downtown, all of that, you’re one day away. You’re one day away.”