Quora Question: Were the Riots in Milwaukee Justified?

Milwaukee police
Police in riot gear line up as angry crowds take to the streets for a second night to protest an officer-involved killing, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, August 14. Protests continued into a second night Sunday. Darren Hauck/Getty Images

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Answer from Susan Perkins:

There is no justification for the violence that happened in Milwaukee. There is context in which this occurred though.

Milwaukee is, by some measures, the most segregated big city in America. Wisconsin has the highest percentage of incarcerated black men in the nation, with more than half of African American men in Milwaukee County in their thirties having served time in prison. Inner city schools are underfunded and black students are suspended at rates double the national average. Those are just a few of the statistics to illustrate that a lot of blacks here are hurting and angry, and their anger is justified.

There's a long history of racist policing and excessive use of force against blacks in Milwaukee as well. I believe the current police chief, Ed Flynn, is a good man who cares about the community, including the black community. But I can't speak to how he is perceived by the black community, and I don't believe he has been able to repair the damage done to trust in the Milwaukee police by some of his predecessors.

So that's the context.

As to the incident that happened, I believe the neighborhood's reaction was spontaneous and happened before much information about the shooting was even released. Some disaffected individuals joined in to take advantage of the unrest, not to make a political statement.

Here's what we know about the shooting victim and circumstances of the shooting: The shooting victim had a stolen gun and a police record. He ran from police after a traffic stop. The gun he was carrying was stolen along with 500 rounds of ammunition in a robbery earlier this year.

This morning, neighbors came out en masse to pray for peace.

New details on the shooting have emerged: The police officer who shot the man is also black. He was wearing a body camera, and that footage is being reviewed while he was placed on administrative leave (standard procedure in a police-involved shooting).

Some community members are saying the victim was stopped without cause, for "driving while black." That's the reason for the violent reaction. I don't know if that's true. That's one of the things I hope the inquiry uncovers.

I'm sick about the entire situation, as are most of the people I know. To sum up the feeling and thoughts of many of us, here's what one of my African American friends has to say on the matter:

"I've read and watched a lot about Milwaukee over the last several hours. I'm numb. No easy answers, because the powder keg that exists in Milwaukee and so many other communities has been decades in the making. We are all responsible for our choices, but it is irrational to ignore the circumstances that shape people and influence the choices that they make. I hope that Milwaukee and this country have the spirit and fortitude to do many important things at once, including protecting the law-abiding, educating our young people, ensuring real opportunity for all, and stepping in to change the lives of people who grow up steeped in the dangerous combination of limited hope and a limited moral compass." —Lafayette Crump

What did the officer in Milwaukee do wrong to justify protests and riots on August 13, 2016? originally appeared on Quora—the knowledge-sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:

Quora Question: Were the Riots in Milwaukee Justified? | U.S.