On Sunday, Milwaukee police identified 23-year-old Sylville K. Smith as the man fatally shot by a local officer Saturday afternoon following a traffic stop. Police claimed that the victim was armed with a handgun when fleeing the scene.
According to the Huffington Post, Smith’s shooting death sparked hours of violent unrest, including vandalism, gunshots, six businesses being set on fire and 17 arrests. As a result, officials have imposed a 10 p.m. curfew to calm down the rioting in the Midwestern city north of Chicago.
“Last night was unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my adult life in this city. And I hope I never see it again,” Mayor Tom Barrett said in a Sunday press conference.
The rioting continued on Sunday night with police in riot gear facing off with protesters who were throwing bottles and bricks, Newsweek reported. As a result, four more officers were injured and one person suffered a gunshot wound.
While Gov. Scott Walker activated the National Guard, Barrett stressed that they wouldn’t be called unless Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn requested it. Meanwhile, Barrett has called for city police to release the entire video of the shooting to the public.
“I think it’s in everyone’s best interest to be as transparent as quickly as possible,” Barrett said.
In terms of the police officer involved with the shooting, it’s been revealed that he is African-American, but his name hasn’t been released to the public.
As HELLO BEAUTIFUL previously reported, Smith was struck twice in the chest and the arm by a local officer. Shortly after the shooting on Saturday, at least 200 protesters congregated in this mostly African-American part of town and took to the streets, which later turned into a violent standoff that included smashing a police car, setting fire to another and burning down an auto-parts store, a beauty supply company and a bank branch. In addition, officials claim gunshots were fired, which stopped firefighters from putting the fires out.
Two injured police officers were initially hospitalized.
Barrett, who went to the scene of the shooting, has a lot of empathy for Smith’s family, the Huff Po noted.
“I think we have to recognize that a young man lost his life yesterday afternoon. And no matter what the circumstances are, his family has to be hurting,” Barrett said. “I have a 23-year-old son, so I can’t imagine what his parents must be going through.”
And while police have gone out of their way to communicate that Smith had a lengthy arrest record, his father Patrick Smith emphasized that that doesn’t mean the police were justified in killing his son or that he was illegally handling a handgun. (FYI: Smith had a concealed carry permit.)
“They got us killing each other and when they even OK’d them pistols, they OK’d a reason to kill us too,” he told Milwaukee’s Fox 6 affiliate. “Now somebody got killed reaching for his wallet, but now they can say he got a gun on him and they reached for it. And that’s justifiable.”
Yet, Mr. Smith admitted that he wished he would have set a better example for Sylville.
“Your hero is your dad, and I played a very big part in my family’s role model for them,” he said. “I got out of jail two months ago, but I’ve been going back and forth in jail, and they see those things. So I’d like to apologize to my kids because this is the role model they look up to. When they see the wrong role model, this is what you get,” the elder Smith added.
Many have blamed the city’s conditions for this riot. Statistically dubbed “the most segregated city in America,” last year NPR listed Milwaukee as one of the worst places for African Americans to live due to its steep racial disparities in education, incarceration and housing.
This is a developing story. We will provide updates as they become available.