Police killing sparks rebellion in Milwaukee
Milwaukee, WI – The Sherman Park neighborhood became the scene of a Ferguson-like uprising after a police killing of a Black man on Saturday afternoon, Aug. 13. At 3:30 p.m., a Milwaukee cop shot and killed a 23-year-old man they said was running away from them, near 44th and Auer Avenue. Police immediately issued statements claiming they recovered a stolen gun.
Community member Nefataria Gordon said “He was a nice, good person. He was really respected. That's why everyone came out. They're angry,” according to a report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
There was a standoff at the murder scene between 100 community members and about 25 police. Some reports claimed there was a “Black Lives Matter” group present, but this is incorrect. The crowd gathered spontaneously after word spread of the police shooting. As the crowd grew in size and intensity, the police retreated. Some in the crowd threw objects at police vehicles and torched a car. One cop was sent to the hospital after reportedly being hit with a brick.
At 10 p.m., a BP gas station was set on fire and burned to the ground while about 100 people watched from the intersection of Sherman Boulevard and Burleigh Street. Bus shelters at the intersection were all turned over and dragged into the street. Several rounds were fired into the air from people in the area.
A short time later and a few blocks away, a Beauty store was set on fire, the windows of a bank were broken, and an O'Reilly Auto Parts store was set on fire.
In the wake of continued police killings, cover-ups, and a deteriorating economic situation, Saturday's events come as no surprise to those paying attention to Milwaukee. The city was recently named the “Worst city for Black Americans” (http://www.tmj4.com/news/local-news/milwaukee- named-worst-city-for- black-americans). Police killings in the Milwaukee area have made protests a regular occurrence in recent years.
Just this summer, a young Black man named Jay Anderson was shot and killed by police in a Milwaukee suburb. Despite protests, the Milwaukee County District Attorney has refused to release recordings of the incident to the public.
In 2014 Dontre Hamilton, a young Black man, was shot 14 times by a Milwaukee police officer after being harassed for resting in a downtown park. The Milwaukee County District Attorney refused to press charges against the cop, but sustained mass protests and a freeway shutdown with over 70 arrests ensured the killer cop lost his job and benefits.
In 2011, 22-year-old Derek Williams suffocated and died while handcuffed in an MPD squad car, begging officers to help him breathe. Video of the incident shows officers joking and refusing to help for nine minutes, until his death. Juries recommended charges against three officers, but none were ever charged.
Sherman Park protests
The rebellion sparked by the killing near Sherman Park on Aug. 13 comes after months of escalated police harassment in the area. On June 29, the Milwaukee Police Department incited a crowd of young people in the park to throw rocks at police. Cops were seen in riot gear, harassing groups of kids for things such as playing music from their phones. The incident made headlines, and the next day, dozens of community leaders and politicians came to the park in an attempt to de-escalate both the police and the youth. Again witnesses said cops were harassing and provoking people, including those who were in the park trying to de-escalate the situation.
On July 19, a gas station attendant at the BP gas station across from Sherman Park fired his gun in the air to scare a group of kids away from the store. The next day, there was an all-day protest outside the BP calling for a boycott of the store by the Black community.
It is no coincidence that after the killing on Saturday, Aug. 13, police cars were the first target of protester's anger, followed by the Sherman Park BP gas station.