This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, August 15, 2016:
Around 3:30 pm on Saturday, two Milwaukee, Wisconsin, police officers observed an automobile being driven “erratically” and performed a traffic stop. Two individuals fled, one of them turning toward the officers with a firearm in his hand. One of the officers fired, hitting him twice. One of the rounds was fatal. The incident lasted 25 seconds and was recorded by the body cam worn by the officer.
In normal times, it’s likely the incident would have been page three news, especially as Milwaukee suffers from a high crime rate. But these are not normal times. Within hours, more than 200 “protesters” began attacking police vehicles at the scene. The violence spread, and by the end of the first night six businesses had been torched, four police officers had been injured, and 17 protesters arrested.
The second night, protests were much more muted, with no businesses being attacked and only one individual, a protester, being shot by another in the melee.
The shooting was justified, according to Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn after he reviewed the recording of the incident by the body cam worn by the officer: “The individual did turn toward the officer with a firearm in his hand,” adding that the officer “certainly appeared to be within lawful bounds.”
County Sheriff David Clarke said Smith had been arrested 13 times. Those included a shooting incident, in which Smith intimidated a witness who later withdrew his testimony. The firearm that Smith used to threaten the officer in the most recent incident was later determined to have been stolen (along with 500 rounds of ammunition) earlier this year.
It didn’t help that members of the mainstream media failed to cover the details sufficiently to defuse the incident. NBC News reported that “the victim, 23, was armed with a handgun and shot dead by an officer after fleeing a traffic stop in Milwaukee’s north side Saturday afternoon.” Nowhere in that alleged report of the incident was anything said about the officer being threatened by the victim when he turned on the officer prior to being shot.
It didn’t help that Milwaukee Alderman Khalif Rainey used the incident not only to promote his agenda but to incite further violence. Calling the incident a “powder keg,” he helped light its fuse:
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. Now this is a warning cry. Where do we go from here? Where do we go as a community from here?
Do we continue — continue with the inequities, the injustice, the unemployment, the under-education, that creates these byproducts that we see this evening? … 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.
Then he added this threat:
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.
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.
If this isn’t incitement to violence, then words have lost their meaning.
Governor Scott Walker put the National Guard on alert after receiving a request from Sheriff Clarke, but no troops have been deployed. Unless the president or some other firebrand or revolutionary with an anti-police agenda decides to use the incident to promote it, the incident is likely to fade into history as another unfortunate but wholly justified self-defense shooting by a police officer operating within the law and his line of duty.