2016 Rewind: More black lives lost

Lisa Neff, Staff writer

The year began with another mass Black Lives Matter demonstration in San Francisco, with hundreds of people protesting the shooting death of Marco Woods a month earlier.

Black Lives Matter protests would continue throughout 2016 as more black lives were lost in officer-involved shootings.

Two highly publicized fatal shootings took place the first week of July, as Americans celebrated their independence.

Alton Sterling, 37, was pinned to the ground by two officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and shot July 5. That night and the next, more than 100 demonstrators protested in that city.

As Americans were still trying to learn what happened in Louisiana, another shooting took place — that of Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota — with the aftermath live-streamed on Facebook. Castile, his girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter had been in a car stopped by St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez. Castile told the officer he was carrying a licensed gun and Yanez, who had stopped Castile because of a broken light and his “wide-set nose,” quickly fired seven rounds.

Protesters marched in dozens of cities, including in Dallas, Texas, on July 7, where a peaceful march ended when Micah Xavier Johnson ambushed and fatally shot five officers. He wounded seven other police officers and two civilians before he was killed.

That month, when there were at least 128 protests in 88 cities, ended with another officer-involved shooting death — that of Paul O’Neal in Chicago.

Then came August, and two more highly publicized shootings followed by protests and riots. In a community near Baltimore, police fatally shot Korryn Gaines and injured her son. In Milwaukee, Sylville Smith was killed by police. His death sparked the Milwaukee Uprising, riots followed by reflection on the racial divide in the most segregated city in the United States.

“There is still much to learn regarding this incident, however, we simply cannot close our eyes to the hostile environment cultivated by the flagrant racial inequality and segregation that has plagued Milwaukee for generations,” U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, said after the shooting and the first nights of unrest.

She continued, “I share the frustration of my constituents who feel they live in a city where justice is only afforded to some and not all. I also share the frustration of our local police officers who are desperately trying to uphold public safety in what they perceive as a caustic climate. We must find a way to strike a balance where we can peacefully point out the racial inequities in our society while recognizing the valuable role police play in our community.”

More deaths amid mistrials

Elsewhere in the summer of 2016, Black Lives Matter protesters marched in response to the shooting deaths of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina and Alfred Olango in El Cajon, California.

In November, a mistrial was declared when a jury in Cincinnati couldn’t reach a verdict in the case of a former campus police officer who was charged with shooting a black motorist.

On Dec. 5, a South Carolina judge declared a mistrial after a jury — 11 whites and one black — deadlocked in the murder trial of a white former police officer, Michael Slager, charged in the shooting death of an unarmed black motorist, Walter Scott. Cellphone video taken by a bystander showed Scott being shot in the back five times.

That day, The Washington Post on its Fatal Force site reported 889 people shot and killed by police in 2016, including 17 in Wisconsin. In many of the shootings, police reported encounters with people carrying weapons, but 36 incidents involved people with toy weapons and at least 45 people had no weapons.

Among those without a weapon was Christopher J. Davis, a 21-year-old black man shot Feb. 24 in East Troy, Wisconsin. He was a passenger in a vehicle whose driver led a Walworth County sheriff’s deputy conducting a drug investigation on a high-speed chase.

More Rewind of 2016 stories:

2016 Rewind: Divisive Milwaukee politics

2016 Rewind: Another deadly year for Milwaukee

2016 Rewind: Riots explode in Sherman Park

2016 Rewind: U.S. court overturns Wisconsin legislative maps

2016 Rewind: Another challenging environmental year for Wisconsin

2016 Rewind: Another year, another WEDC scandal

2016 Rewind: The stand at Standing Rock

2016 Rewind: Tragedy at Pulse, but love overcomes hate

2016 Rewind: North Carolina’s ‘bathroom bill’

2016 Rewind: Record number of insured Americans under Obamacare

2016 Rewind: Dreams deferred, deportations threatened

2016 Rewind: High court win for abortion rights in high stakes year