Monday, August 15, 2016

Milwaukee Police Make ‘Multiple Arrests’ in Second Night of Unrest
AUG. 15, 2016
New York Times

The authorities in Milwaukee struggled into Monday to maintain order in part of Wisconsin’s largest city, which was gripped by violent unrest after a police officer killed an armed man on Saturday.

The city police said early Monday that officers in northwest Milwaukee had made “multiple arrests” and that officials had used an armored vehicle to retrieve a shooting victim.

Although the police reported a night of unrest — the Police Department’s Twitter account also said that officers had been targeted with projectiles that included rocks and bottles — Milwaukee officials did not summon the National Guard, which Gov. Scott Walker activated on Sunday “to aid local law enforcement upon request.”

The second night of disorder heightened concern that Milwaukee, with a glittering lakefront that belies its stark racial and economic divides, might be in the opening days of sustained protests about the practices of the police. It was not immediately clear how local officials would respond to the second night of unruliness, but Mayor Tom Barrett of Milwaukee had suggested on Sunday, the day after angry crowds confronted the police and set fires, that additional violence could provoke a curfew.

By Monday morning, it was clear that the city’s efforts to keep peace, including Mr. Barrett’s assertion that the man who had been killed had been armed with a handgun when he was shot, had also faltered. The police chief, Edward A. Flynn, identified the man as Sylville K. Smith, a 23-year-old African-American, and said that the officer who had fired the fatal shot is also black.

“He happens to be African-American, with several years of experience, and he’s a very active officer,” Chief Flynn said of the officer. “And we are concerned for his safety.”

The police said the officer, who has not been publicly identified, was 24 years old and had been placed on administrative leave. The state, as required by law, is leading the inquiry into the shooting, which Milwaukee officials said had happened after Mr. Smith and another person fled a traffic stop Saturday afternoon.

When Mr. Smith did not comply with an order to drop his semiautomatic handgun, Mr. Barrett said, the officer opened fire, striking Mr. Smith in the chest and an arm.

“This event probably took 20 to 25 seconds,” Chief Flynn said. “I mean, there was virtually no time between the officer unhooking his seatbelt, turning on his body camera, getting out of the car and immediately there was a foot chase.”

The police did not release video of the episode, but Chief Flynn said that the officer’s recorded actions appeared “credible and legally protected.”

But in some of Milwaukee’s predominantly black neighborhoods, the killing was yet another outgrowth of exceedingly aggressive and misguided police tactics in this city of about 600,000. The shooting occurred less than two weeks after a coalition that included the N.A.A.C.P. and the American Civil Liberties Union urged Milwaukee to create a civilian oversight panel in a city with some of the country’s highest rates of incarceration or unemployment for black men.

“This city is the most hypersegregated city in the United States, and if you think you can bring in people to patrol to make our streets safe, you can’t,” Fred Royal, the president of the Milwaukee branch of the N.A.A.C.P., said this month. “The only way you can do that is deal with the economic disparities.”

The Milwaukee police have been under closer scrutiny for months. In December, after prosecutors did not bring charges against a former Milwaukee officer in the 2014 killing of an unarmed black man, the Justice Department announced that the city would participate in its “collaborative reform process,” which will yield nonbinding recommendations that federal officials hope will improve “community-oriented policing practices, transparency, professionalism, accountability and public trust.”

The entire process, which is also playing out in places like North Charleston, S.C., and St. Louis County, Mo., takes years and is distinct from a civil rights inquiry that could monitor changes to eliminate unconstitutional patterns or practices.

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