Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters had gathered outside the Milwaukee County Safety Building on Wednesday afternoon, awaiting the decision of the trial. Once delivered, it was met with dismay by the demonstrators. Although the protest remained peaceful for a while, violence erupted as night fell.
A curfew had been in place since 7pm and, at around 9pm, the police characterized the gathering as an “unlawful assembly,” ordering protesters to disperse immediately. However, the request was ignored, and officers began firing multiple rounds of tear gas and pepper balls.
The Wauwatosa Police Department advised residents to remain indoors and take shelter away from windows, as reports emerged that rioters were attacking homes and smashing storefronts. Videos shared on social media appear to show that some rioters were heavily armed.
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
Highway gas stations were also looted, many more than once. While some looters wore masks that concealed their identity, many showed their faces.
Black people are looting again tonight in Milwaukee. pic.twitter.com/1u8HdOzOQW
— Mark Dice (@MarkDice) October 8, 2020
In expectation of civil unrest, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers had deployed National Guard troops to disperse the crowds and protect public and private property. Rioters repeatedly approached the sizeable police line, and the officers responded with more tear gas.
The unrest followed the decision of Milwaukee County District Attorney (DA) John Chisholm, who declined to file charges against black police officer Joseph Mensah for the death of black teen Alvin Cole, who stole and fired a handgun outside a mall in February.
Protests have taken place in the area since Cole was shot on February 2. The 17-year-old reportedly shot himself in the arm while running from law enforcement agents, having entered the Mayfair Mall brandishing a semi-automatic pistol. According to the DA’s report, on fleeing, Cole tripped and fell, before pointing his gun at the pursuing officers, at which point Mensah opened fire and killed him.
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