May 31: Day Starts With Peaceful, Spiritual Protests; MPD Arrests People Violating Curfew
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. In Milwaukee, protests have been occurring since last Friday over Floyd's death and other cases of police brutality. Here you'll find updates on protests happening in the Milwaukee area.
Check out all of WUWM's protest coverage here:
Updated Monday at 12:51 a.m. CT
For the second night in a row, Milwaukee's citywide curfew went into effect at 9 p.m. Sunday, but protests continued. Milwaukee police were arresting those violating the curfew, which remains in effect until 7 a.m. Monday.
We are making several curfew arrests and we are towing vehicles. Go home or you will be arrested and your car will be towed.— Milwaukee Police (@MilwaukeePolice) June 1, 2020
Around midnight Monday, authorities deployed tear gas near the District 5 police station, tweeted a TMJ4 reporter.
Scene dispersed within minutes after @WI_Guard and @MilwaukeePolice by District 5 deployed teargas. Ppl were on top of cars & @BurgerKing by MLK & Locust. Ppl also started firing off fireworks & some1 threw a water bottle at us @tmj4 #Milwaukee pic.twitter.com/jW9pCWOQ77— Lauren Linder (@lauren_linder) June 1, 2020
During an earlier news briefing, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Police Chief Alfonso Morales say they support the right to impassioned protests. They were referring to demonstrations taking place in Milwaukee and across the country in response to the death of George Floyd, a black man who died when a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck, as well as deaths of people — mainly men of color — at the hands of Milwaukee police over the years.
On both Friday and Saturday, peaceful daytime protests were followed by looting and clashes with Milwaukee police in the evening. Morales said 60 people were arrested, most of them local residents.
“You should know that only three of those arrests are from people that live outside the city of Milwaukee. So the destruction came from city of Milwaukee residents," Morales said. "We can’t blame other people; that is not the narrative here. It’s Milwaukeeans creating this problem. The reckless, destructive criminal behavior has to end."
On Sunday afternoon, protests resumed in Milwaukee, this time featuring a religious tone. A large group of mainly black residents gathered at 3 p.m. to march through the north side, singing songs praising God. A second group gathered at 4 p.m. at Washington Park on the west side for what was billed as a peaceful prayer protest.
A little before 6 p.m., all lanes on Interstate 43 were closed from downtown to the near north side. A group of protesters tried to walk on to the freeway, but were blocked by police. Others gathered near the entrance on North Ave., chanting "Arrest the police."
Another group of marchers headed downtown, stopping at the Milwaukee Police Department's headquarters at 749 W. State St.
Around 8:30 p.m., protesters on foot and in cars made their way through Milwaukee's east side.
People continue to march and gather past 9 p.m., the time Milwaukee's citywide curfew went into effect.
Protesters made their way to E. Kenwood Blvd. around 10:25 p.m. Some bottles and cans were thrown at police, but it mostly remained peaceful.
At the press conference Sunday afternoon, both Morales and Barrett said mending police-community relations is a national and local issue.
“The Milwaukee Police Department will protect and support and continue to work on our relationships with the community," Morales said. "What we will not do is stand and let our city burn. We’ll continue to protect that’s what we were sworn to uphold."
Morales said while there was less disorder on Saturday night than Friday night, a number of local businesses suffered damage.
“Last night more than 20 businesses were looted and vandalized," the police chief said. "Those businesses have already struggled to make ends meet and maintain their levels of employment during the COVID-19. These businesses are owned by people in the community that you’re choosing to destroy."
Meanwhile, Barrett announced that asymptomatic testing for COVID-19 will resume Monday at two sites.
“Obama Custer School at 4300 West Fairmount on the north side of the city of Milwaukee, and that’s a new site,” Barrett said.
The mayor was heckled at a press conference Saturday after the National Guard ceased COVID-19 screening in Midtown. Barrett said, "The reason that is being moved from Midtown is because Aurora has a site that will be in continuation after the National Guard leaves and that site is for symptomatic people.” He added that the UMOS site on the south side remains operational.