Black Lives Matter protesters took to the streets of Milwaukee and Wauwatosa Wednesday night, with some of the “peaceful” demonstrators smashing windows of homes and businesses and clashing with law enforcement and the National Guard.
“What started as a protest has become a large disturbance of public order that has caused property damage and is threatening to cause injury to persons,” the Wauwatosa Police Department tweeted just before 10 p.m. Wednesday.
The protests followed Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm’s announcement that his office “could not meet the burden required to charge” Wauwatosa officer Joseph Mensah in the fatal shooting of a black teen. Mensah, also black, shot Alvin Cole, 17, in February at Wauwatosa’s Mayfair Mall after Cole fired his stolen 9 mm pistol at officers, according to the investigation summary.
It was Mensah’s third fatal shooting of a suspect in five years. He was found to have acted in self-defense in the others.
What started as a protest has become a large disturbance of public order that has caused property damage, and is threatening to cause injury to persons. The Wauwatosa Police has ordered dispersal, and has not obtained compliance.
— Wauwatosa Police (WI) (@WauwatosaPD) October 8, 2020
Black Lives Matter protesters have made Mensah the face of police brutality and social injustice in suburban Milwaukee, demanding the black police officer be fired and charged with homicide. They’ve received the backing of most members of Wauwatosa’s city council.
Radical leftists “targeted” Mensah, vandalized his girlfriend’s home, and fired a shotgun at the back door during a riotous demonstration in August.
“Officer Mensah attempted to establish a dialogue with the group but was ultimately physically assaulted outside his home,” the police report stated, adding that the group was estimated to consist of 60 to 70 people. Two men were arrested on felony charges.
State Rep. Rob Hutton and state Sen. Dale Kooyenga, both Brookfield Republicans, practically had to beg Wauwatosa’s far-left mayor to ask Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to keep the Wisconsin Army National Guard on standby in case things got out of hand. They finally — if begrudgingly — heeded the advice, with Evers sending in Guard members Wednesday.
Things started to get out of hand about 9 p.m., when Wauwatosa police reported “windows being broken at businesses along North Ave. between Wauwatosa Avenue (N. 76 St) and Swan Bl (N 96 St.).” Townhall reporter Julio Rosas captured the vandalism on video.
Some rioters in Wauwatosa, WI are now smashing windows of homes. People in the crowd tried to stop them from targeting homes. pic.twitter.com/vIiDQDPzTr
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) October 8, 2020
“On the ground in Wauwatosa for @townhallcom and some in the BLM crowd are smashing storefront windows,” the reporter tweeted. Some earlier on Twitter had asked why Wauwatosa businesses would board up their windows.
In one video report, a business’s front window that apparently did not have a Black Lives Matter sign was smashed. An adjacent window with a BLM sign was spared.
— Brendan Gutenschwager (@BGOnTheScene) October 8, 2020
Police deployed tear gas and nonlethal weapons as protesters attempted to bust through the security lines, according to reporters on the ground. Like many BLM protests that turned disorderly and violent, demonstrators were out past the city-imposed curfew, between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. The curfew is in effect through 6 a.m. Monday.
Wauwatosa City Hall and the city’s library announced early closings Wednesday out of concern that “civil unrest” would follow the district attorney’s decision. Schools went all-online for the day.
Wauwatosa residents watched anxiously, hoping the Milwaukee suburb wouldn’t turn into the next Kenosha, which was ravaged by three days of riots after a police officer shot a black man during a domestic incident in August. One video showed the bold line between sympathy for the BLM movement and their violent tactics.
“Do you know how many Democrats, how many [Milwaukee Public Schools] teachers, union members, other people that would support you live on this street, and you’re going to let him ride through my yard? Show some respect,” a Wauwatosa man shouted at rioters on a motorcycle.
“The cops pushed us this way, just so you know,” one of the demonstrators informed the frustrated man.
“So they pushed you into my yard?” he said, incredulously.