Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker activated the National Guard to Milwaukee after a violent night of protests that erupted after a man was fatally shot by police in a predominately black neighborhood.
The violence was triggered when a man was shot and killed after fleeing from police at a traffic stop in the city’s north side, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. As of Sunday morning, police had not released the man’s race or if he was pointing the gun had officers. Police said the man was carrying a gun that had been stolen in a March burglary in suburban Waukesha, according to the State Journal.
Although the man’s race was still unknown Sunday morning, the city’s north side is predominantly black, and rumors spread quickly throughout the neighborhood and on social media. In a press conference early Sunday, Alderman Khalif Rainey said Milwaukee’s black residents are “tired of living under this oppression.”
“This is their existence. This is their life. This is the life of their children,” Rainey said, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “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, Wisconsin, that have to be closely, not examined, but rectified. Rectify this immediately.”
Earlier in the evening, about 100 people had gathered at the site of the shooting, according to the Journal-Sentinel. There were reportedly about 20-30 officers present, some in riot gear. According to the Journal-Sentinel, protesters smashed a squad car’s windows and set it on fire. The newspaper said one its reporters was shoved to the ground and punched.
Meanwhile, protesters threw rocks and debris, and a traffic light was bent. At least four businesses were burned, including a BMO Harris Bank branch, a beauty supply company and a O'Reilly Auto Parts store. Police tweeted that there were reports of gunshots in the area around 11 p.m. At least one officer was injured in the violence and three people were arrested.
In a press conference early Sunday, Mayor Tom Barrett blamed social media for inciting the violence.
"We have to have calm," Barrett said. "There are a lot of really good people who live in this neighborhood."
The shooting on Saturday was just blocks from two fatal shootings in a five-hour stretch earlier this weekend.
Milwaukee has been referred to as the “worst city for black people” in the United States. About 40 percent of the city is black, but Milwaukee’s history of segregation has loomed large. Wisconsin has the largest achievement gap between black and white students, four out of five black children in Wisconsin live in poverty and in Milwaukee county, and more than half the black in their 30s and 40s in the county have served time in prison, according to NPR.