Black Lives Matter protesters marched through the once quiet city of Wauwatosa for a fourth night Saturday over the decision not to charge Police Officer Joseph Mensah for the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Alvin Cole.
Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride told TMJ4 News he hopes to avoid the need to extend the 7 p.m. curfews.
“Our primary concern is that no one gets seriously hurt. So far no one’s gotten seriously [hurt]. In Kenosha, people got killed, maimed, paralyzed, McBride said. We are prepared so nobody gets hurt.”
He described his police department’s efforts to quell the protests and diffuse clashes between protesters and law enforcement.
The mayor explained the use of tear gas and non-lethal shots fired to quell the crowds after the 7:00 p.m. curfew was imposed.
“Both times they did, it was after the protesters went from peaceful to unpeaceful and started throwing projectiles,” McBride said.
If protesters come into Wauwatosa, police and the Wisconsin National Guard will be present to enforce the curfew by dispersing crowds, the mayor added.
A large group of demonstrators gathered at Milwaukee’s Washington Park on Saturday and marched west into Wauwatosa where they joined several hundred other protestors at Wauwatosa City Hall.
After a 7:00 p.m. curfew went into effect police observed a group of demonstrators congregating in the area. Officers kept their distance as protesters moved to occupy the intersection of Wauwatosa Avenue and North Avenue.
“At approximately 7:00 p.m., demonstrator vehicles blocked all lanes of W. North Av. at Wauwatosa Av. Law enforcement closed surrounding streets to redirect traffic out of the area,” police tweeted.
“Demonstrators have occupied the lawn on City Hall property for nearly an hour, and have been in violation of the emergency curfew order since 7:00 p.m. At 7:40 p.m., law enforcement declared the group an unlawful assembly. Announcements have been given to the group,” police added.
Just before 8:00 p.m., police and National Guard troops in riot gear, alongside heavily armored vehicles, began to move in. Officers over loud speakers warned the protesters they were violating curfew. Most protesters chose to leave, walking on the sidewalk east out of Wauwatosa. Police started arresting those who refused to obey their orders.
Law enforcement took over the intersection of 76th Street and North Avenue just after 8 p.m. as protestors made their way east on North Avenue towards Milwaukee. They reported that most of the demonstrators had dispersed as ordered.
“A few individuals who refused to leave were given additional warnings, then were arrested without incident. We appreciate the cooperation of those who dispersed once announcements were made,” police tweeted.
One organizer described the gathering as a sit-in and announced a plan to challenge the city curfew, according to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“We as ‘Tosans are coming out tonight to stand with them,” said Wauwatosa resident Joseph Kraynick. “And kind of test to see, as people from ‘Tosa how are police gonna react when we don’t leave for curfew?”
On Friday demonstrators marched to City Hall for a third night. At least two groups of organized protests of about 60 to 75 people began at 5 p.m. One group met near Wauwatosa City Hall with signs and the other started in Milwaukee and marched to Wauwatosa.
A crowd formed near Wauwatosa Avenue and West North Avenue even though a 7:00 pm curfew went into effect.
At about 8 p.m., law enforcement agencies began telling the crowd to disperse. After several announcements police in riot gear and carrying shields moved toward the protesters. They then declared an unlawful assembly.
Wauwatosa police tweeted that officers were hit by bottles and rocks. Officers deployed teargas to get the protesters to disperse.
Around 8:20 p.m., law enforcement personnel observed the group attempting to set something on fire in the 7200 block of W. North Avenue without success. Six people were taken into custody, police said.
Members of the same group broke the windows at Snap Fitness located at 7212 W. North Avenue.
Law enforcement also took another protester into custody who was in possession of burning materials, including lighter fluid.
Police released body cam video showing a protester throwing a bottle at police, and officers responding with pepper balls and paintballs.
Officers deployed tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Around 1:15 a.m., three vehicles arrived at the Wauwatosa Police Department demanding the release of prisoners, but there were no individuals in custody there.
One of the vehicles fled the scene, almost hitting a police detective. The driver was brought into custody after a brief pursuit. Police said they found lighter fluid, which could be used to start fires, in a protester’s backpack. They also recovered a handgun as well as a stolen vehicle.
In total, 28 adults were arrested. Two of the arrests were felony arrests, one was a misdemeanor arrest, and 25 were municipal arrests.
The Wauwatosa Fire Department evaluated two adult arrestees for minor injuries.
Members of the Wisconsin National Guard were stationed at Mayfair Mall to protect the property from any demonstrations or damage.
The curfew remains in effect until 6 a.m. Monday.