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May 30: Tear Gas Deployed, Some Stores Vandalized After Peaceful Protests In Milwaukee

Protests are happening around the country following the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man who died when a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck. Here you'll find updates on protests happening in the Milwaukee area.

Check out all of WUWM's protest coverage here:

>>Wednesday, June 3
>>Tuesday, June 2
>>Monday, June 1
>>Sunday, May 31
>>Friday, May 29

Updated Sunday at 1:45 p.m. CT

Milwaukee saw another day of peaceful protests against police brutality, but by Saturday night, police were deploying tear gas and people were vandalizing stores. The city and some surrounding areas issued a 9 p.m. curfew Saturday after Friday's protests resulted in looting and a wounded officer. But some people ignored the curfew.

Windows were smashed at the Cricket Wireless store at 22nd Street and Capitol Drive after 10 p.m. After that, TMJ4 reports that a beauty supply store on W. Fond du Lac Avenue was looted.

Credit Chuck Quirmbach
The windows of a Cricket Wireless store were shattered late Saturday night.

WUWM reports officers held their ground at the District 7 police station, located at 3626 W. Fond du Lac Ave., despite some fireworks and a smoke bomb being thrown their way. They had help from an armored vehicle from the Racine County sheriff's department as well as a drone and a police helicopter overhead. Around 11:35 p.m., the police launched a sound grenade to help break up the protestors. And, police deployed tear gas just before midnight at a crowd near police station, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Late Saturday evening, a smoke bomb was thrown at police outside of the District 7 police station in Milwaukee.

Protests are happening around the country following the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man who died when a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck.

Saturday's protest started in the afternoon, with hundreds of people gathering in Veterans Park near Lake Michigan before marching downtown Milwaukee. Hours later, protesters stopped outside of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett's house in the Washington Heights neighborhood.

Outrage over Floyd’s death drove Racine residents Ahmad Qawi and Vanessa Acuna to participate in the Milwaukee protest Saturday afternoon. They carried signs saying "Black Lives Matter."

Credit Emily Files
Racine residents Ahmad Qawi and Vanessa Acuna took part in Saturday’s protest in Milwaukee against police brutality.

“He was an innocent man and they literally murdered him,” Acuna said. “I’m so tired of seeing the same things happen over and over where cops are racist and commit these horrible crimes against innocent people. I think real change won’t happen until we come out and unite.”  

Qawi added, “Seeing the video on social media makes it so real. We heard him saying ‘I can’t breathe.’ ”

"He was an innocent man and they literally murdered him." - Vanessa Acuna

Later Saturday, near the District 7 police station, Devossia Terry was among the people who came by to give the police an earful. She said the Milwaukee Police Department doesn't do enough to protect her neighborhood.

Terry said it's ironic the officers were defending their building: "How can you protect your building when you can't protect your people? A building can break and get rebuilt. A family or a loved one can never be replaced."

Credit Chuck Quirmbach
People in (and on) vehicles take part in Saturday's protest in Milwaukee.

At Milwaukee city and county officials' request and Evers' approval, about 125 members of the Wisconsin National Guard mobilized to help local law enforcement protect businesses and institutions from damage. The National Guard members will not be used to “impede the ability of people to peacefully protest," according to a press release.

"We cannot lose this city. National Guard will not be patrolling the streets, but rather will be protecting our cultural institutions, like child care centers, churches, firehouses. That frees up [the police] to do their job because we were outmanned last night and we cannot allow that to happen,” Barrett said during a news conference Saturday afternoon.

At the news conference, Barrett, Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas, and Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales acknowledged peoples’ anger over the killings of unarmed black men and women at the hands of police. 

“It was shocking, it was indefensible, and it was immoral,” Barrett said of Floyd’s death, which he called a murder. “And so all those individuals who are angry – African Americans, Latinos, Caucasians – who are angry for what they saw in our country, I share their anger.” 

"When the sun went down, things changed. " - Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales

Barrett, Morales and Lucas thanked peaceful protestors but condemned the looting and violence that took place following Friday’s protests. An MPD officer was wounded by a gunshot during the unrest, according to the department, and about 50 people have been arrested.

Recounting the events Friday, Morales said, “When the sun went down, things changed. [There was] crime, unlawfulness, distastefulness and totally immaturity. There were 16 businesses that were looted. Some businesses were set on fire … We cannot operate like that in the city of Milwaukee. We don’t accomplish anything through violence.”

Emily is WUWM's education reporter and a news editor.
Marti was a reporter with WUWM from 1999 to 2021.
Lauren Sigfusson
Lauren became WUWM's digital producer in July 2018.
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