Riots erupted Saturday night in Milwaukee, Wisconsin after the fatal shooting of an armed black man by police.
Protests initially started peacefully Saturday but gradually turned violent, resulting in the burning of six businesses, altercations with police, the destruction of seven police vehicles and 17 people arrested. The riots were so bad that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker had to activate the National Guard.
Black Lives Matter activists initially began the protests after the shooting, even before many details emerged, fueled by anger and a long history of racial tensions in Milwaukee.
Saturday afternoon police officers stopped a vehicle carrying two suspects. One of the suspects, 23-year-old Sylville Smith, was carrying a handgun and took off running. According to police, Smith was ordered to drop the gun multiple times before officers opened fire, hitting him in the arm and chest, killing him.
No more details have emerged about the second suspect other than the fact that he is in police custody.
The handgun that Smith carried was stolen during a burglary in Waukesha, Wisconsin in March.
The officer that shot Smith is reportedly black as well and had a body camera on him. Footage, which has not been released, will be used in the investigation. He has been placed on administrative duty.
City Alderman Khalif Rainey says the area in which the shooting took place has been a “powder keg” for violence, and that “What happened tonight may not have been right and I am not justifying that but no one can deny the fact that there are problems, racial problems in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that need to be rectified. This community of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has become the worst place to live for African-Americans in the entire country.”
Tensions remain high as of Sunday but the violence has died down. The National Guard is activated and remains on alert in case deployment is necessary.
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