Over the weekend, a 23-year-old black man named Sylville Smith was shot and killed by a member of the Milwaukee Police Department after allegedly fleeing a traffic stop. According to police, Smith was armed with a stolen handgun which he refused to drop, despite having been ordered to do so. And what began as a spontaneous protest of around 200 people quickly turned into a riot.
Right now there is not much information about the killing itself. The officer has not been named due to safety concerns and footage from the officer’s body camera will not be released until sometime later. What is known about Smith is that he had run-ins with the law in the past, but was never convicted of anything more serious than a misdemeanor. According to Smith’s mother, he obtained a concealed carry permit after having been robbed four times and shot twice.
Slowly we will gain more details about the incident, and about the lives of Smith and the officer who took his life. Until then, the unrest continues in Milwaukee, with Governor Scott Walker activating the National Guard on Sunday, followed by the imposition of a citywide curfew. What is known is that — like Baltimore before it and Ferguson before that and Los Angeles before that — Milwaukee was a racial powder keg ready to ignite.
In 2014, Dontre Hamilton, a 31-year-old black man with schizophrenia, was shot and killed by a white Milwaukee police officer. The officer, Christopher Manney, was not charged in spite of the fact that Hamilton was shot fourteen times because, as District Attorney John Chisholm determined, he acted in “self-defense.”
And, according to the Brookings Institute, Milwaukee is the “most segregated metro area in the United States.” And yet most of us will still wonder why, for an armed man who fled a traffic stop, ordinary black citizens feel so much pain and anger. And, as we have seen, many people don’t care either way, preferring instead to spew racist invective.
Here, for example, are some reactions from the official Blue Lives Matter Facebook page:
And a selection of Twitter reactions:
Someone named “fix bayonets” called for the extermination of black Milwaukee residents:
Others predicted a race war for the millionth time:
Along with more racial slurs, calls for deportation, and racist jokes:
Paul Ramsey wants the Southern Poverty Law Center to condemn the imaginary war on whites:
And here’s pretend journalist Paul Joseph Watson hyping unfounded claims of random black-on-white attacks in Milwaukee:
Reminder: You should believe his claims of censorship about as much as his shitty reporting on Hillary Clinton’s health:
Case in point, this photo predates the Milwaukee riots. Since figuring that out would require literally minimal effort, it’s no wonder Paul didn’t fact check:
I could go on but you probably get the picture.