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Wisconsin declares state of emergency, activates National Guard after violent protests

By Amy R. Connolly and Yvette C. Hammett
Wisconsin declares state of emergency, activates National Guard after violent protests
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett addresses a news conference late Saturday after unrest broke out in city streets following the police shooting of an armed 23-year-old man fleeing a traffic stop. Photo from Milwaukee Police/Twitter

MILWAUKEE, Aug. 14 (UPI) -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker proclaimed a state of emergency and activated the National Guard in Milwaukee after violent protests erupted in response to the fatal police shooting of a fleeing suspect.

Walker called for calm after police shot a 23-year-old man who was allegedly armed and fled from a traffic stop. At least 200 angry protesters gathered after the shooting to demand justice for the man, who was not named. Demonstrators damaged at least two police cars and several businesses inclduing a gas station and an auto parts store.

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"Following a request from Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, and after discussions with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Adjutant General Donald Dunbar, I have activated the Wisconsin National Guard to be in a position to aid local law enforcement upon request," he said, adding "Wisconsin is the first state in the nation to have a law requiring an independent investigation anytime there is a shooting by a law enforcement officer that leads to a death."

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Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, in a midnight press conference, said there will be a strong police presence in the community in the coming days, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

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"Our police officers are doing everything they can to restore order," Barrett said, noting that the entire city needs to help restore peace.

"If you love your son, if you love your daughter, text them, call them, pull them by their ears, get them home," Barrett said.

At least 200 people were involved in the disturbances and three were arrested, Assistant Police Chief James Harpole said. He said numerous gunshots could be heard during the hours of unrest.

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At one point during the street violence, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter and photographer were chased and the reporter was pushed to the ground and punched.

Alderman Khalif Rainey blamed the city for the unrest, calling it the worst place in America for African-Americans.

Rainey said Milwaukee's Sherman Park became "a powder keg" this summer and said issues facing the city's African-Americans must be addressed.

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"This entire community has sat back and witnessed how Milwaukee, Wis., has become the worst place to live for African-Americans in the entire country," he said. "Now this is a warning cry. Where do we go from here? Where do we go as a community from here?

"You're one day away," Rainey went on, unless problems of inequality in education and unemployment among the black community are addressed. "The black people of Milwaukee are tired. They're tired of living under this oppression. This is their existence. This is their life. This is the life of their children.

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"Now what has happened tonight may have not been right; I'm not justifying that. But no one can deny the fact that there's problems, racial problems, here in Milwaukee, Wis., that have to be closely, not examined, but rectified," Rainey said. "Rectify this immediately. Because if you don't, this vision of downtown, all of that, you're one day away. You're one day away."

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