Protesters in a poor, predominantly black neighborhood of the U.S. midwestern city of Milwaukee fired gunshots, hurled bricks and set a gas station on fire on Saturday night after a patrol officer shot dead an armed suspect there, authorities said.
Police did not disclose the race of the suspect or the officer involved in the shooting, which occurred on Saturday afternoon in Sherman Park. The violence comes as anger over police killings of black men and women in the United States remains unabated.
A statement by the Milwaukee Police Department did not name the suspect 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 police pulled over the vehicle for unspecified “suspicious activity.”The statement did not say whether he fired any shots or pointed the weapon at officers. A second suspect who fled from the vehicle was quickly taken into custody.
The officer who shot the suspect has been placed on administrative duty pending an investigation bu the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, police said.
Police said that after the shooting, some residents of Sherman Park came out onto the streets and that by evening, initially peaceful gatherings had turned violent.
The crowd fired gunshots, smashed the windows of at least two squad cars and set another one ablaze, police said. One officer was hit in the head with a brick.
Fires broke out at gas station, an auto parts store and at least three other businesses, officials and local media reported.
“This is a warning cry,” Milwaukee Alderman Khalif Rainey said. “Black people of Milwaukee are tired. They are tired of living under this oppression.”
Police violence against black men and women has sparked intermittent, sometimes violent protests in U.S. cities from Ferguson, Baltimore and New York in the past two years.
The outrage has given rise to the Black Lives Matter movement and touched off a national debate over race and policing in the United States.
In 2014, Dontre Hamilton, an unarmed black man was shot dead in a park by a Milwaukee police officer, an incident that sparked largely peaceful protests.
Sherman Park was the scene of some unrelated rioting a month ago. Coalition 4 Justice, which was formed after Hamilton was killed, called on supporters to clean up city streets and hold prayer vigils.
“Riot is the language of the unheard,” the group wrote on Twitter.
As of 1 a.m. Central time (0200 ET), police said three arrests had been made in connection with the unrest.
Shortly after 2 a.m. police said they were restoring order to Sherman Park and reducing deployments, but local news footage showed a liquor store in flames just minutes before the release of the statement.
By daylight, videos posted to social media by local news outlets showed resident sweeping streets and picking up debris left by the rioting. Burned out vehicles and a torched building could be seen in the background.