Protesters march from Humboldt Park in Bay View to downtown Milwaukee on Tuesday, June 2, to protest the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
It was a simple gesture, but one that resonated with hundreds of cheering protesters in Milwaukee on Tuesday.
Police officers kneeling alongside protesters.
For a moment, the tension between law enforcement and people protesting the senseless killing of George Floyd broke outside the Milwaukee Police Administration building.
The heartfelt moment came at the end of a half-hour of speeches as hundreds gathered peacefully after marching through the city. One officer, clad in riot gear, put his arm around a young woman holding a handmade “Black Lives Matter” sign; other officers gave thumbs-up to the crowd.
The symbolism of their gestures was not lost on a group motivated to speak out and march in Milwaukee in honor of a man who died under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer last week.
Officers also knelt with protesters Tuesday in Waukesha and other suburbs.
Waukesha police officers generated applause for kneeling with protesters during their march across the city on Monday. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Like other cities across the U.S., Wisconsin communities have borne the brunt of violence committed in darkness after peaceful daylight protests.
Though Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett did not order a curfew for Tuesday night — severe weather was expected to bring rain and heavy winds overnight — a curfew was in effect in Racine where a community policing center named after a local civil rights leader was burned to the ground.
Barrett briefly joined one of the largest marches yet in Milwaukee, a group that made its way from Bay View to downtown.
“People are rightfully upset,” Barrett said as he joined the marchers for a block on Milwaukee’s south side.
The day before, former Milwaukee Bucks player Jabari Parker joined in a protesty. Parker, wearing a shirt that read “Why?”, marched alongside Milwaukee community activist Frank Nitty.
On a scorching afternoon, protesters came prepared with water and snacks. Along the route, volunteers with Bell Ambulance and some Bay View restaurant staff handed out water bottles.
Protesters later walked onto I-794 and headed for the Hoan Bridge before being stopped and directed back down an on-ramp.
At least two people were arrested Tuesday night as Milwaukee police and protesters had a dramatic standoff just west of the Milwaukee River.
The standoff between police and protesters apparently began when officers were attempting to arrest someone and a bike police officer went down. Police had formed a circle around the person they were arresting, and protesters gathered close.
About 100 officers in riot gear began advancing toward the crowd. After police fired several tear gas canisters and rubber bullets at protesters near North 6th Street and West McKinley Avenue, the crowd had largely dispersed as of 8 p.m.
More looting, vandalism in Madison
Looters and vandals tore up Madison’s State Street again, with the city’s most popular business district looking like a war zone Tuesday morning following looting and destruction by a group of people who broke off from a mostly peaceful protest to stomp out car windows, light Molotov cocktails, loot stores and beat two men with a crowbar.
Police left the crowd alone until about 1 a.m. Tuesday when looting and concentrated violence began. Madison Police Chief Vic Wahl said one person fired a gun into the air during the mayhem.
At that point, the officers used tear gas to break up the crowd.
“For the third straight night, a number of individuals have come downtown not for the purpose of First Amendment expression, but to engage in violence, looting and property damage,” Wahl wrote in his daily blog.
Just before 2 a.m., two men who participated in the day’s protest confronted a woman who was damaging property and looting stores.
Several looters turned on the men and attacked them with pieces of wood and a crowbar, according to Madison police. One suffered multiple broken bones and the other needed stitches.
The Forward statue in front of the Capitol was defaced with red paint. On the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, someone scrawled “Where is our museum?” and “Do you hear us now?”
The Capitol itself was vandalized with spray paint, and nearly every step and sidewalk on its west side were painted with “Black Lives Matter,” “I can’t breathe” and other pleas that have been widely used to protest the disproportionate rate at which black men and women are arrested, or worse, by police.
Hours after the Capitol and its iconic landmark was defaced, Gov. Tony Evers released a four-minute video message about Floyd’s death, racial disparities and the demonstrations.
“We must see the trauma, fear and exhaustion of being black in our state and in our country,” he said. “We must reject the efforts of those who seek to undermine and distract from the pain of generations of injustice.”
Drone view of a peaceful protest march in Milwaukee against the killing of George Floyd, an African American, by a white Minneapolis police officer. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
He did not address the violence and vandalism that have sprung up in Madison on the tail end of peaceful protests for the past three days — chaos GOP legislative leaders have blamed him for not addressing.
“Leaders need to lead in times like this. Citizens look towards their government to protect the safety of the public. This clearly wasn’t done last night,” Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, said in a tweet. “The @MayorOfMadison & @GovEvers need to make it abundantly clear this will no longer be tolerated.”
Arrests in Milwaukee
In Milwaukee, more than 100 arrests have been made, though the exact tally has not been released.
Whatever the number, the arrests put extra pressure on a justice system that officials had slimmed down during the coronavirus pandemic, to keep the Milwaukee County Jail population at a minimum and reduce the odds of a major outbreak.
As of Tuesday, prosecutors were still sorting out the weekend’s arrests, deciding which would result in criminal charges and who would be cited.
A half-dozen people have been charged for offenses that appear connected to the violence and looting in Milwaukee.
Among them: Isaiah Allen, 26, who was caught inside a Kids Foot Locker on North 56th Street, carrying boxes of shoes and a handgun in his waistband. He told police he wanted shoes for his kids and knew that entering the broken-in store was wrong. He is now charged with burglary, a felony.
Booker Williams, 18, was charged with second-degree reckless endangerment after police said he sped and wove through a crowded intersection early Monday, with passengers hanging out windows. The car continued even after it hit spike strips police had laid out, before it was abandoned about a half-mile away.
Police found Williams’ ID in the car and he later walked up to them and admitted he’d been driving.
Milwaukee police have released a statement saying protesters were throwing rocks and glass at officers at North 6th Street and West McKinley Avenue. Wochit
Many people who were not engaged in crime or violence also spent time in custody over the weekend.
Ellie Jackson, 33, and Johanna Rose, 32, were walking near North Milwaukee Street and East Ogden Avenue about 9:30 p.m. Monday, taking bottles of water and snacks to marchers several blocks ahead of them, when they were arrested, handcuffed and put into a police wagon.
They said they spent about 40 minutes in the van as it rode around and picked up other women and then dropped them all at the District 2 Police Station, where about two dozen women were held until the morning.
Most were eventually released and given $691 tickets for violating curfew, Jackson said.
Milwaukee County Supervisor Ryan Clancy was detained by police Sunday night for four hours and received a $691 ticket for violating curfew, which he said he plans to fight, not only because he is an elected official but also because he doesn’t think the tickets were warranted.
Journal Sentinel reporters Bruce Vielmetti, Christopher Kuhagen and Alison Dirr contributed to this report.
Read or Share this story: https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/local/wisconsin/2020/06/02/wisconsin-officers-kneel-protesters-madison-cleans-up-again/3128011001/