Violent protests erupted in Milwaukee on Saturday following the fatal police shooting of an armed 23-year-old black male who police say has a "lengthy arrest record." Although very little was known about the actual incident, rioters took the street setting the city ablaze.
Here are seven things you need to know about the Milwaukee riots:
1. In response to reports of the police shooting, angry protesters began causing disturbances at around 3:30 pm on Saturday in Milwaukee. According to the Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel, “as many as seven shots could be heard about 8:45 to 9 p.m.” By 11 p.m. local time it was a full-scale riot. A crowd of dozens of rioters had assembled in the Milwaukee neighborhood where the 23-year-old armed black male was killed, initiating a revenge campaign based on mob-justice. With each addition to the the crowd, the rioters grew more violent, prompting police to issue orders to disperse. At its peak, the assembly included hundreds of violent rioters. Methodically, police equipped with shields moved into the occupied intersection as rioters threw rocks and anything else within an arm’s distance at the officers. Police made just three arrests on Saturday night, despite the belligerent nature of the mob.
Large police presence in area of Sherman and Auer. Officers working on peacefully dispersing crowd.— Milwaukee Police (@MilwaukeePolice) August 14, 2016
Arrests made in area of disturbance. MPD continues efforts to disperse crowd.— Milwaukee Police (@MilwaukeePolice) August 14, 2016
2. Throughout the night, officers were violently attacked by members of the protesting mob. One officer was seriously injured after a rioter hurled a brick at police squad car’s window. The officer was struck in the head with the brick, causing a major loss of blood.
MPD officer undergoing treatment at local hospital after brick thrown through squad window, striking officer in the head.— Milwaukee Police (@MilwaukeePolice) August 14, 2016
Several other police vehicles were set on fire or smashed with metal objects.
Crowd breaks widows of unoccupied squad near Sherman and Auer. Other squad set afire and broken windows on another. pic.twitter.com/Jux2mJZYyQ— Milwaukee Police (@MilwaukeePolice) August 14, 2016
The rioters attacked both unattended vehicles and vehicles occupied by unsuspecting police officers. At least one police squad car was set on fire. When police moved in to disperse the crowd, they were met by Palestinian-style rock throwers. A significant number of the rioters refused to disperse peaceably, and instead opted to engage in guerilla warfare with the Milwaukee PD using rocks.
3. The rioters set a gas station on fire at around 10 pm, while spontaneously shooting bullets into the heavily-populated area.
Gas station at Sherman and Burleigh set on fire. MFD cannot extinguish fire as gunshots are being fired.— Milwaukee Police (@MilwaukeePolice) August 14, 2016
The gunshots prevented the Milwaukee Fire Department from accessing the gas station. By midnight local time, they were finally able to enter the scene of the blaze, but by then, the gas station had already burned down.
4. The rioters also set a bank on fire, in addition to at least three other buildings. A couple blocks away from the intersection where a mob of at least 100 people brawled with police, rioters set the BMO Harris Bank branch in Milwaukee's north side ablaze. “It was at least the fourth building to burn, following a BP gas station, an O'Reilly Auto Parts store and a beauty supply store,” reports CBS News. “Footage from a news helicopter also appeared to show a small grocery store had been looted.”
5. The rioters assaulted journalists on the scene, kicking, punching, and throwing reporters on the floor like rag dolls. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports (emphasis added):
Earlier in the evening, more than 100 people gathered near the scene of the shooting at N. 44th St. and W. Auer Ave. and at times pushed against a line of 20 to 30 officers, some of whom were in riot gear.
At one point, the officers got in their cars to leave and some in the crowd started smashing the windows and side of a squad car. Another vehicle was set on fire. As officers returned to the scene, this time with more in riot gear, as many as seven shots could be heard about 8:45 to 9 p.m. The shots appeared to be fired in the air by someone in the crowd.
Soon thereafter, the crowd turned on and chased reporters and a photographer from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. One reporter was shoved to the ground and punched.
The scene was not safe for journalists reporting (sometimes even sympathetically) on the evening’s chaotic events. As the streets turned into a virtual war zone, police asked cameramen, journalists, and news crew to leave as quickly as possible, fearing for their safety.
So far in #Milwaukee I've seen journalists attacked, cameramen attacked, bricks through at photographs & police.— Jason (@EnemyWithinn) August 14, 2016
Any excuse for violence.
6. Many of the most violent rioters were affiliated with BLM or other black nationalist movements. A video has emerged showing rioters shouting “Black Power!” as a gas stations burns down in a massive blaze.
Some black community leaders have blamed BLM, or Black Lives Matter, for Saturday’s night’s mass violence. BLM has “stoked hysteria,” Bishop E.W. Jackson told Fox News on Sunday. “A mass hysteria has taken grip…[They are] using race as a way of avoiding responsibility.” Jackson also slammed President Obama for legitimizing and even emboldening the BLM movement.
7. On Sunday morning, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker activated the national guard. City and state officials fear more violent nights ahead. “We cannot allow for a repeat of what happened last night," Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke stated." I am going to utilize all available resources to accomplish that.”
This comes after Mayor Tom Barrett’s heartbreaking plea to the people of Milwaukee on Saturday night. "If you love your son, if you love your daughter, text them, call them, pull them by their ears, get them home,” he said in an emotional statement. “Get them home right now before more damage is done.”
Barrett also added that Milwaukee PD had "shown an amazing amount of restraint" in response to the violent rioters. "Our police officers are doing everything they can to restore order," he stressed.