The closing of a Black Box Theater in suburban Milwaukee, Wisconsin, sparked protests from people outraged by police brutality and racial profiling in the United States.
The theater was shut down on Wednesday by city officials who said they couldn’t find a private company to operate it.
“It is with deep regret and sadness that we must announce the closing of Black Box Theatre, a historic venue located in our community that has been an important part of the community for more than 40 years,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said in a statement.
“Our city is at a turning point in terms of race relations and we must move forward together to address the needs of our diverse communities.”
Black Box Theater, located in suburban West Bend, was originally a movie theater.
In the early 1980s, the theater became a movie studio, and was later used as a movie theatre by Black Rock.
It closed in 1991, according to its website.
The closing comes after Milwaukee police used tear gas to disperse protesters who gathered outside the theater Wednesday afternoon.
The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office said the tear gas was used because the theater was “within sight of and within hearing distance” of the police barricades.
Protesters, some carrying signs that read “Black Lives Matter” and “No Justice, No Peace,” then began walking towards the theater, which had been empty for months.
Police responded by using pepper spray and rubber bullets.
At one point, a demonstrator threw a smoke bomb, which hit a police officer in the face.
The officer was treated for his injuries, according the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
A group of people who were protesting were hit by pepper spray.
A man who was hurt by the pepper spray was treated at the scene by paramedics, Milwaukee police said.
A man who had his right eye gouged was treated and released.
A woman who had her right eye injured was treated by paramedics and released, police said in the statement.
Police said the officer who was injured suffered a concussion and was not expected to recover.
A protester holding a sign that read, “Black lives matter,” was treated with pepper spray, police added.
Police also said protesters were blocking traffic at a stretch of West Lake Street.
They said the group moved into the parking lot, and one person was arrested.
Police have not released any video of the incident, but the footage was posted to YouTube.
The statement from Barrett’s office said the theater has been used for productions by the Black Rock Theatre, Black Rock Comedy Club and the Black Box Comedy Theater.
The theater was scheduled to be the site of a musical production of The Color Purple on Thursday night.
The city of Milwaukee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.