Milwaukee Probes Social Media Threats Against Officer

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The unrest in Milwaukee after a fatal police shooting appears to have mostly abated, but the social media communication that helped fuel it has, if anything, intensified and focused on the officer, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. As of yesterday, at least 3,000 people have shared a Facebook photo of the 24-year-old patrolman who fatally shot 23-year-old Sylville Smith – some of them adding furious and threatening comments. “Now y’all see his face if he’s seen anywhere in the city drop him,” read one post. Another called for a gun so the person could “shoot him right in his head.” The posters gave the officer’s name, Dominique Heaggan. Heaggan and Smith, both of whom are black, knew each other from the Sherman Park neighborhood.

Most people shared the same photo — Heaggan, in uniform and standing in front of a squad car — or shared stories of interacting with him on the streets. Others urged restraint, saying to wait for all the facts before making up their minds, and asked people to not “destroy our own communities.” On Monday afternoon, the District 7 police station was briefly closed because of threats, including shots fired nearby, said Police Chief Edward Flynn. The officer is staying with relatives out of town. The police department (MPD) said it had “noted a disturbing national trend where users of social media have identified officers involved in uses of deadly force, threatened the officers and their families, and demonized them … MPD takes these threats seriously and is investigating.”

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