The violence in Wauwatosa – a city west of Milwaukee – began on Wednesday when Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm published a 14-page letter detailing why he believes Wauwatosa Police Department officer Joseph Mensah’s shooting of 17-year-old Alvin Cole was justified.
According to Chisholm, the evidence showed that Cole was fleeing from police officers while carrying a stolen handgun. He further explained how testimonies from Mensah and two other officers consistently prove that Cole fired at the officers while fleeing and that he repeatedly refused to comply with commands to drop the gun.
“He did not surrender the weapon and was fired upon by Officer Mensah, causing his death,” wrote Chisholm.
The district attorney concluded the letter stating that there was sufficient evidence to believe that Mensah had “an actual subjective belief” that if he did not shoot at Cole, he would have been injured. This belief, Chisholm argues, was “objectively reasonable.”
The City of Wauwatosa, where Mensah worked, had anticipated the coming unrest and shut down city hall for the rest of the week. Students were also moved to online learning for several days.
The city later declared a 7 p.m. curfew immediately after Chisholm released his decision. The curfew was subsequently ignored by several hundred demonstrators. (Related: African American police officer attacked in his own home by Black Lives Matter rioters.)
Meanwhile, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers announced earlier on Wednesday that he had activated the National Guard as a precautionary measure. Evers, however, refused to divulge how many were being called up and how they would be deployed.
Rioters vandalized and pillaged their way through the city
The Antifa and Black Lives Matter (BLM) rioters in Wauwatosa did not take the district attorney’s decision lightly. Riots immediately broke out all over the small city, affecting both commercial and residential areas.
In a lengthy Twitter thread, Julio Rosas, a reporter for conservative alternative media outlet Townhall, posted videos capturing how the violent mob vandalized and pillaged their way through Wauwatosa.
In his first video, Rosas was able to capture the rioters smashing the windows of businesses as they marched through the city. Rioters would simply pick up rocks and bricks and hurl them at the windows, with the crowd cheering every time they hit their targets.
In another video, several BLM demonstrators got into a heated argument with a homeowner about the fact that they were trespassing on his property. At one point the homeowner, a middle-aged White man, argued that the mob didn’t even know which homes were occupied by people who support their movement and which ones were not.
After going through residential areas, the rioters regrouped at a gas station, where they started looting the convenience store there. When the Wauwatosa police started to arrive, the dozen or so looters took off with bags filled with food and drinks.
By 9 p.m., Wauwatosa police declared an unlawful assembly and, with the aid of the National Guard, blocked off all of the streets heading to City Hall. During this time, Rosas captured footage of the rioters facing off against a police line during which the mob chanted: “The cops are no good! Ain’t no good!”
Police were eventually able to disperse the mob after firing teargas and pepper balls. In addition, they also arrested several rioters.
Innocent Wauwatosa residents affected by riots
What made the Wauwatosa riot troubling was the fact that the main area where the riot took place was not the commercial district of a major city. Rather it was a residential neighborhood of a city of less than 50,000 people.
Jeff, the owner of an apartment complex in Wauwatosa, told reporters about how one of his tenants, a 70-year-old woman, was crying in fear because her building was targeted by the rioters. When the demonstrators passed by the apartment complex, several people in the group started hurling rocks at the building. People within the crowd tried to intervene, but the rioters threw several more volleys before they were finally talked into stopping. By then, the damage had already been done.
“She couldn’t stop shaking,” said Jeff. “I ended up loading her up into my vehicle and driving her to her sister’s house in Grafton in hopes she would get some rest because I knew she wouldn’t get rest here overnight.” Many of Jeff’s other tenants opted to spend the night somewhere else as well.
Jeff, who has owned the apartment complex since 1999, is still assessing the extent of the damage done to his property. He believes, however, that the damage done to one of the apartments alone is going to cost him around $10,000.
I understand the right to protest,” he said. “I’m completely behind that. But when you damage somebody’s residence, you’ve gone too far. It’s not a protest anymore.”
Learn more about how the ongoing riots in places like Wauwatosa, Portland and Seattle are negatively affecting the lives of the cities’ residents at Rioting.news.