Wisconsin governor activates national guard after police shooting sparks violent protests

Police identified the deceased suspect as Sylville Smith, a 23-year-old black man fatally shot by police during a traffic stop on Saturday night.
August 14, 2016, 1:40pm
A car burns as a crowd of more than 100 people gathers following the fatal shooting of a man in Milwaukee, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. (Calvin Mattheis/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP)

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker activated the National Guard on Sunday to assist Milwaukee in case further protests break out against the police killing of a black man who allegedly brandished a firearm during a traffic stop.

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke requested the Guard be activated after meeting with Walker and Wisconsin National Guard Adjutant General Donald Dunbar.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett told reporters in a Sunday news conference that "125 members of the National Guard are on their way" and said he hopes it's "not necessary to deploy" them.

Police also said that Sylville Smith was the 23-year-old black man fatally shot by police during a traffic stop on Saturday night. The police officer who shot him is also African-American, police said.

Mildred Haynes, Smith's mother, said Smith had a 2-year-old son.

Violence erupted on Saturday night in the city after police shot and killed Smith earlier in the day in the predominantly African-American north side neighborhood of Sherman Park.

The neighborhood was calm on Sunday afternoon, and some residents cleaned up some of the detritus left over from the previous night's violence.

Protesters had poured into the street Saturday evening to protest the killing, firing shots, setting a gas station on fire, torching at least one police car, and throwing bricks through the windshields of two others.

Related: Racial bias found in 'every stage' of Baltimore policing

At least three people were arrested by early morning, police said.

Police pulled Smith over for what Mayor Barrett called "suspicious activity." Barrett said on Sunday afternoon that he had seen a still image from the police body cam footage that showed "without question" that Smith had a gun in his hand when he was shot.

"There were 23 rounds in that gun that the officers were staring at," he said at an earlier news conference. "I want to make sure we didn't lose any police officers in this community, either."

The gun had reportedly been stolen in a burglary in March in Waukesha, Wisconsin, a suburb. It's not clear if Smith aimed the weapon at or threatened officers.

The Journal Sentinel reported that police charged Smith last year in a shooting and that he later pressured the victim to withdraw testimony that identified him as the gunman. Both felony charges were later dropped for reasons that are unclear, the Associated Press reported, quoting the Journal Sentinel.

VIDEO: Rioters chanting "black power" as gas station burns in #milwaukee pic.twitter.com/wQJ45WOocm
— Tim Pool (@Timcast) August 14, 2016

As demonstrations kicked off early on Saturday evening, 20 to 30 police tried to confront more than 100 protesters, but the protesters overwhelmed them, and set one of police patrol cars on fire, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Later, police in shields and helmets confronted about 50 protesters, who threw rocks and overturned a bus shelter.

"This is a neighborhood that has been unfortunately affected by violence in the recent past," Mayor Barrett said, referring to a small demonstration last month. "There are a lot of really, really good people who live in this area... and can't stand this violence."

Our first look at the scene in — Kaley Lawrimore (@kaleylawrimore)August 14, 2016

"This is a warning cry," Milwaukee Alderman Khalif Rainey said. "Black people of Milwaukee are tired. They are tired of living under this oppression."

Milwaukee is just the latest city to erupt in protest after a police shooting. Although police did not release the name or race of either the police officer or the suspect, outrage over white police violence toward minorities has led to the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and caused a national debate about race and policing.

Van R. Newkirk II wrote on Twitter that "Milwaukee has been on knife's edge." "It's one of the worst places for police brutality."

Searched Twitter for news on Milwaukee and the racism is overwhelming in that feed

— Vann R. Newkirk II (@fivefifths)August 14, 2016

The officer involved in the shooting was put on administrative leave.

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke is well known as a conservative voice in Republican politics.

Follow VICE News on Twitter: @vicenews