Businesses damaged, looted hours after peaceful protests in Wauwatosa

Hundreds of people marched on Wednesday night, Oct. 7 after Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm earlier Wednesday announced suspended Officer Joseph Mensah will not face charges in the February fatal shooting of Alvin Cole, 17, outside Mayfair Mall.

What started as peaceful protests throughout the day ended with chaos -- leaving several businesses damaged.

Wauwatosa police laid out the events of the night and morning in a statement Thursday afternoon.

According to police, at 7:38 p.m., a group of approximately 150 to 200 people entered the Wauwatosa at 60th Street and North Avenue.

They proceeded westbound on North Avenue to 76th Street and stopped at Wauwatosa City Hall, where police and National Guard members were present.

Police said around 8:40 p.m., projectiles, including glass bottles, large rocks and bricks, were thrown at law enforcement.

Wauwatosa police then declared an unlawful assembly, announced this to the crowd multiple times and directed them to disperse. Police said the group did not follow this lawful directive and the law enforcement agencies deployed tear gas to disperse the unlawful assembly.

At around 9 p.m., the group then proceeded westbound on North Avenue to the area of 92nd Street, where police said members of the group broke the windows of several residences and businesses.

People in the crowd again began threw projectiles at law enforcement personnel, police said. After continued non-compliance and refusal to disperse, paintballs and pepper balls were deployed into the crowd "in self-defense."

The group then headed north on 92nd Street into Milwaukee, where police said the group began looting the Speedway gas station at 92 Street and Burleigh Street before forcing their way into a construction site on the Mount Mary Campus. The group then made their way into both Milwaukee and Wauwatosa neighborhoods.

Local law enforcement and National Guard were in the area to prevent additional unrest.

There was one arrest made by the Wauwatosa Police Department for failure to follow police directions to disperse.

As the group made their way out of Wauwatosa, there was a report of looting at the Boost Mobile on 76th Street near Burleigh Street around 12 a.m. The Milwaukee Police Department responded to these incidents.

At approximately 2 a.m., police said a number of vehicles were driven recklessly in the wrong direction on Mayfair Road near Mayfair Mall. In response, the Wauwatosa Police Department deployed stop sticks to prevent further reckless driving.

There were no injuries reported to law enforcement officers or members of the group.

Police noted Wauwatosa officials are "well prepared to continue to protect lives and property in our community."

Curfew will continue in the City of Wauwatosa between the hours of 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. each night until Oct. 12.

Protesters marched in a mostly peaceful manner Wednesday, first making their way onto the freeway before reaching Wauwatosa, some carrying signs, chanting "Black Lives Matter" and "no justice, no peace," among other messages.

Wauwatosa resident volunteers headed outside with gloves, brooms, dustpans, and masks on Thursday morning, Oct. 8  to help local businesses heal. Beginning at 6 a.m., Wauwatosa residents gathered near Colectivo Coffee at the intersection of North Avenue and Swan Boulevard and work to sweep up window glass broke during the unrest Wednesday evening.

Let’s Heal Wauwatosa” was organized by:

  • Shawn Rolland, a Milwaukee County Board supervisor representing District 6 including neighborhoods in Wauwatosa, West Allis and Milwaukee’s westside, and also a Wauwatosa School Board member; and
  • Robyn Vining, a Wisconsin state representative representing District 14 with neighborhoods in Wauwatosa, Brookfield and Milwaukee.