Milwaukee is the latest scene of anti-police rioting. Yesterday, rioters set fire to a gas stations, a bank branch, a beauty supply company, and an auto parts store. Three people were in the gas station. All managed to escape unharmed.
The rioters also attacked a line of police officers who had been dispatched in response to the lawlessness. When the officers got in their cars to leave, some in the crowd started smashing the windows and side of a squad car. Another vehicle was set on fire.
Officers returned to the scene, this time with more in riot gear. At that point, as many as seven gun shots were heard.
The rioting occurred after a police officer shot and killed an armed male. Reportedly, two officers stopped two suspects in a car at around 3:30 p.m. The suspects took off on foot.
One of the suspects was armed with a semi-automatic handgun. An officer ordered this suspect to stop and drop his gun. When the suspect did neither, the officer fired several times hitting him twice. The suspect reportedly had 23 rounds in his gun.
The police department says the officer was wearing a body camera that it believes was operational during the stop and chase. If so, we may be able to get a clear and unfiltered understanding of what happened.
We already know that the dead suspect was an African-American. In addition, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that sources say the officer who killed him was also African-American.
If so, whatever else turns out to be true, we can say that the shooting was not the product of white racism (though I suspect there are unhinged left-wing professors who would argue otherwise).
It also appears that the dead suspect had a lengthy arrest record. The police department says the handgun he was carrying when he was killed had been stolen in a March burglary. The owner reported that 500 rounds of ammunition also were stolen.
Two African-American politicians, Aldermen Russell W. Stamper II and Khalif Rainey, promptly blamed the rioting on alleged “oppression” of blacks in Milwaukee. Mark Hale, a 52 year-old African-American who has lived in Milwaukee all his life, had a different take. He attributed the fires to businesses and squad cars to “a lot of idiots who don’t have jobs and don’t want to have jobs.” By way of contrast, Hale said that his four children all are training or studying to be in law enforcement.
Rainey called Milwaukee “the worst place to live for African-Americans in the entire country.” “Rectify this immediately,” he demanded.
Rainey may be exaggerating about life for African-Americans in Milwaukee. In some areas of the city, though, life certainly is no picnic.
Take the area near where the police tried to stop the now-deceased suspect. According to the Journal Sentinel, one block away, there was a homicide the previous day. Four blocks away, there was a double homicide Saturday morning. Five people died in shooting-related homicides during a nine-hour stretch in Milwaukee on Friday night and Saturday morning.
This is the sort of area that the U.S. Department of Justice apparently believes the Baltimore police force pays too much attention to.
It seems likely that when the two Milwaukee police officers stopped the two suspects, including the one armed with a semiautomatic pistol and 23 rounds of ammunition, they were trying in their small way to “rectify” that which makes Milwaukee such a dangerous place for African-Americans to live.
It might even be that the officers prevented more homicides. I doubt that the dead suspect who refused to comply with the officers’ instructions was carrying the stolen gun and ammo for a a benign purpose.
With riots in the streets of Milwaukee and the U.S. Department of Justice already sniffing around, the upshot may well be less policing of dangerous Milwaukee neighborhoods, more thugs on the loose, and even more black homicide victims.
UPDATE: Four Milwaukee police officers were injured during the rioting. Each was hospitalized but has been released.
The worst injury was to a female police officer. She was hit by a piece of concrete, suffering a concussion and lacerations that required seven stitches.
It could have been worse for her, and presumably those who hurled concrete at police wanted it to be.
On Sunday, several gunshots were fired near a police station. However, it did not appear that the building was hit.