The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Police quell two nights of Michigan riots

Michigan, June 18 (AP): Police quelled a second night of disturbances after rioters protesting the death of a motorcyclist during a police chase set at least five buildings and five cars on fire.

Allegations of police harassment have been a source of tension in Benton Harbour, an economically struggling city of 12,000 people. The rioters shot one person in the shoulder and beat and stabbed others, police said. In all, 10 to 15 people were hurt, none seriously.

“It is so unnecessary. It is unbelievable to see this in our community,'' said Samuel Harris, police chief in the city on Lake Michigan, 160 km from Chicago.

About 150 state troopers and 100 other police officers used tear gas and other non-lethal methods to quell the violence by early today. “The idea is to try not to injure anyone but cause them enough discomfort so they will leave,” Harris said.

“We’re basically predominantly a Black community,” he said on ABC TV. “Many of our police officers are White, but I seldom have complaints of the racial nature.”

Benton Harbour was 92.4 per cent Black and Benton township 51.9 per cent black, according to the 2000 US Census. The motorcyclist who died was Black, and the officers who chased him were White.

Harris said authorities “will probably” impose a 10 pm curfew for today and the rest of the week.

One of the burned buildings was a vacant two-storey structure where Terrance Shurn, 28, of Benton Harbour lost control of his speeding motorcycle and crashed early on Monday.

Police say one other burned building was vacant and three were occupied.

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