Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker activated the National Guard on Sunday to assist should further rioting erupt in a predominantly black Milwaukee neighborhood where police killed an armed suspect.
The Sherman Park neighborhood, which has a reputation for poverty and crime, appeared calm at midday on Sunday after businesses were burned, cars set ablaze and gunshots fired overnight by demonstrators angered by the police killing. At least three people were arrested.
Police presence in the area was low, with some residents milling around and others cleaning up debris.
Walker announced the National Guard activation after a request from Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who met with Walker and Wisconsin National Guard Adjutant General Donald Dunbar.
Clarke, an African-American, has in the past advised residents to arm themselves against criminals. The sheriff, who spoke last month at the Republican National Convention, has publicly opposed the Black Lives Matter movement.
Walker said the Guard would be “in a position to aid local law enforcement upon request.”
Police violence against black men and women has set off intermittent, sometimes violent protests in U.S. cities from Ferguson, Missouri, Baltimore, New York, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and St. Anthony, Minnesota, in the past two years.
The outrage has given rise to Black Lives Matter and touched off a national debate over race and policing in the United States.
There also have been deadly ambushes of police this summer. Five officers were slain by a sniper in Dallas in July as they provided security at an otherwise peaceful protest of police killings. Three officers were killed by a gunman in Baton Rouge less than two weeks later.
The trouble in Milwaukee started on Saturday afternoon. A patrol officer fatally shot a suspect who fled after police stopped his vehicle, police said.
A second suspect who fled from the vehicle was quickly taken into custody.
LENGTHY POLICE RECORD
A Milwaukee Police Department statement did not identify the dead man but said he was 23 years old, had a lengthy arrest record and was carrying a stolen handgun loaded with 23 rounds of ammunition when stopped for unspecified “suspicious activity.”
The statement did not say whether the man fired any shots or pointed the weapon at officers. The officer who shot the suspect was placed on administrative duty pending an investigation by the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, police said.
Crowds gathered on the streets after the shooting and turned violent during the night. Windows of police cars were smashed and other vehicles were set on fire, as were a gas station, an auto parts store and at least three other businesses, officials and local media reported.
Policing in Milwaukee has been under scrutiny since 2014 when Dontre Hamilton, a mentally ill, unarmed black man was fatally shot in a park by a white officer, an incident that sparked largely peaceful protests. No state or federal charges were pursued but the U.S. Justice Department started a review of the police department’s policies, practices and accountability system.
Coalition for Justice, formed by Hamilton’s family after his death, said on Facebook the rioting following Saturday’s shooting was “a demand for justice on every level” in what it called “one of the most segregated cities in the United States.”
Police were called to Sherman Park in June after reports of residents throwing rocks, bricks and bottles at a bus and a business.
The National Guard, which is under the dual control of the federal and state governments, was deployed in Ferguson in August 2014 after several nights of rioting over the police killing of an unarmed black man.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is scheduled to speak at a campaign event in Milwaukee on Tuesday.
(Additonal reporting by Chris Michaud and Laila Kearney in New York and Julia Harte in Washington; Writing by Frank McGurty and Bill Trott; Editing by Howard Goller and Peter Cooney)