[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
LANGUAGES
Spanish
Brasil
Caribbean
Last Updated: Thursday, 19 June, 2003, 00:08 GMT 01:08 UK
Michigan riot town under curfew
Two boys stand amid the smouldering remains of a neighbour's home 18 June, 2003 in Benton Harbor, Michigan
One resident described the scene of a rioting as a "war zone"
Police have imposed a curfew on a town in the American state of Michigan that has been hit by two nights of racially-charged rioting.

Officials said an extra 150 state police had been sent to Benton Harbour, which is on the shores of Lake Michigan about 100 miles (160 kilometres) from Chicago.

The authorities have declared a state of emergency for the area, allowing them to call in the National Guard if necessary.

The violence in Benton Harbor was triggered by the death of a black motorcyclist, who was killed during a high-speed police chase on Monday.

Some residents have blamed the police for 28-year-old Terrance Shurn's death and have in the past complained of police harassment.

About 300 people joined in Tuesday's night of rioting.

One person was shot in the shoulder while a crowd attacked firefighters called out to tackle the burning buildings, police spokesman Lieutenant Mike Risko said.

Police arrested at least seven people.

'Few racial complaints'

The town's police chief, Samuel Harris, said the violence was "unbelievable".

"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."

One of the buildings set on fire was a vacant two-storey building near where Mr Shurn lost control of his motorbike and crashed.

State police Lieutenant Joseph Zangaro said police did not know why Mr Shurn had been fleeing, although it emerged that his licence had been suspended and a small amount of cannabis was found on him.

Local officials said it was the worst rioting the town of 12,000 had seen since street violence erupted in August 1966 and more than 1,000 National Guardsmen were sent in.




RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific