Wisconsin’s governor has deployed his state’s National Guard to Kenosha following a night of sometimes-violent unrest that came after police in the lakeside city shot a black man multiple times in the back.
Governor Tony Evers also called a special legislative session to take up a package of bills aimed at addressing problems with law enforcement following the shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake late on Sunday afternoon.
Mr Blake’s three sons saw the shooting, a lawyer for the family said.
After being rushed to a hospital, Mr Blake was out of surgery and in stable condition, his father said on Monday (local time).
In a video taken by a bystander across the street from the shooting, Mr Blake can be seen walking toward the driver’s side of a grey SUV, followed by two officers with their guns drawn at his back. Seven gunshot sounds can be heard as Mr Blake, who appears to be unarmed, opens the car door, and a woman nearby jumps up and down in disbelief.
It was unknown whether the officers saw something inside the vehicle that caused them to fire on Mr Blake. It was also not clear whether one or both officers fired their weapons.
Crowds gathered at the scene and some protesters set fires and threw bricks and petrol bombs at police, prompting authorities to close public buildings. Activists said they were organising another night of demonstrations for Monday night.
Mr Evers, a Democrat, condemned what he called the “excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging with black Wisconsinites”. He announced the special session next Monday for politicians to consider legislation introduced months ago to improve police accountability and eliminate dangerous practices.
“We must rise to this movement and this moment and meet it with our empathy, our humanity and a fierce commitment to disrupt the cycle of systemic racism and bias that devastates black families and communities,” he said in a public address.
Kenosha Professional Police Association president Pete Deates said Mr Evers was “wholly irresponsible” for rushing to judgment and asked the public to wait until all facts were known.
The shooting came three months after the death of George Floyd, a black man, in Minneapolis police custody sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and structural racism.
Former vice-president Joe Biden, the Democrat challenging Republican President Donald Trump in the November 3 election, has called for the officers to be held accountable.
Close to 200 members of the Wisconsin National Guard were sent on Monday to Kenosha, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters, as the city set a curfew for a second night.
Protesters had already begun gathering in Kenosha, a city of about 100,000 people on Lake Michigan north of Chicago, on Monday afternoon.
The shooting occurred as officers were responding to what they termed a “domestic incident”. Authorities gave no further explanation as to what led to the shooting.