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Police fire tear gas, pellets during 3rd night of protests following Joseph Mensah decision

Posted at 7:28 PM, Oct 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-12 15:26:12-04

WAUWATOSA — Law enforcement fired tear gas and pellets after protesters reportedly threw bottles Friday night during what appears to be the largest demonstration so far since the decision to not charge Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah for the fatal shooting of Alvin Cole.

Officer Mensah shot and killed Cole on Feb. 2 outside of Mayfair Mall. Police said the 17-year-old had fired a gun at officers first before being shot. A report from an independent investigator found, however, that Cole did not fire at the officers, but accidentally shot himself in the arm.

Long lines of law enforcement and National Guard surrounded a group of over 100 protesters near the Wauwatosa City Hall shortly after 7 p.m. Friday, when the curfew kicked into effect. Police waited about an hour until the lines of officers began to enclose around the protesters.

At one point it appears people threw bottles of some kind at the officers. Police responded by firing tear gas and pellets at the group. The protesters dispersed soon after.

Protesters say they are upset about Cole family arrests last night

Protesters TMJ4 talked to say they were angry that Alvin Cole's mother and sisters had been arrested during protests Thursday night, when a total of 24 people were arrested for violating curfew. They all have been released from custody and fined.

"I know it's after seven, but tensions are high in our community and I'd rather have a peaceful protest than have an officer like Joseph Mensah killing someone in our community," says Wauwatosa Equity and Inclusion Commission Chair Sean Lowe.

TMJ4 News provided live updates of the third night of protests. You can see those updates below.

8:49 p.m. -- Crowd of protesters disperses

Wauwatosa police say the group of protesters has mostly dispersed. According to WPD: "Those who are still out in violation of the emergency curfew are being ordered to leave, and any who refuse to do so are being arrested."

8:34 p.m. -- Police fire tear gas, protesters move dumpsters into road, WPD says

Wauwatosa police say people are removing dumpsters from businesses and moving them onto West North Avenue.

8:15 p.m. -- Tear gas and paintballs were fired at protesters near Wauwatosa City Hall

Police in turn say bottles were thrown at officers, and began deploying tear gas.

8:07 p.m. -- Law enforcement move towards protesters

Law enforcement is moving towards protesters near City Hall to get them to disperse.

7:45 p.m. -- Law enforcement surrounds group of protesters

Per TMJ4's Ben Jordan: "Police and National Guard officially have all four exit points surrounded at 76th and North. Police are giving commands but protesters haven’t moved."

7:42 p.m. -- Law enforcement line approaches protesters near city hall

A large line of law enforcement officers approaches a group of protesters outside Wauwatosa City Hall. Officers are calling for them to disperse, per the 7 p.m. curfew.

7:32 p.m. -- Wauwatosa Police Chief Barry Weber shares video message

Chief Weber outlines his orders to Wauwatosa police officers as they respond to protests Friday night.

"We trust our officers to assess what is happening on the scene," the chief said. He explained that if, for example, people disperse and walk back to their cars, they will not be bothered by officers.

The chief says that if people are "unlawful and disorderly," and refuse to disperse, they are subject to arrest by police.

7:20 p.m. -- Protesters gather outside Wauwatosa City Hall

More than 100 protesters are blocking the street in front of Wauwatosa City Hall, TMJ4 crews report. Law enforcement is beginning to move towards the group, to get them to disperse.

7 p.m. - Curfew is in effect

A curfew is in effect in the City of Wauwatosa, running from 7 p.m. - 6 a.m. until next Monday.

Recap: First and second nights of protests over Alvin Cole shooting

Protests began shortly after the decision was made to not charge Mensah Wednesday afternoon.

Protesters marched onto the freeway and then through several Wauwatosa neighborhoods. Law enforcement with the assistance from the Wisconsin National Guard appeared to be trying to divert the protesters from reaching Mayfair Mall, at times using tear gas.

Wauwatosa saw both peaceful protests and property damage, such as smashed storefronts and residential housing, Wednesday night.

Protesters returned to the streets Thursday night. That night was largely defined by arrests, as law enforcement began detaining people after the curfew went into effect at 7 p.m.

A total of 24 people were arrested that night, including Alvin Cole's mother and sisters. All of the protesters were later released from custody and fined for violating curfew.

Jay-Z offered on Friday to pay for the bail bonds and curfew citations for arrested protesters.

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