Demonstrators gathered late Wednesday in Watuwatosa, Wis., a Milwaukee suburb, marched in streets, threw rocks at homes and broke windows hours after prosecutors announced that a police officer would not face charges in the shooting death of a Black teen earlier this year, reports said.
Brendan Gutenschwager, a videographer who documents rallies and protests, took to Twitter and described a chaotic scene. He said some were seen throwing rocks at residential homes. One person, he said, shouted, “That’s somebody’s home!”
Gutenschwager shared footage of shattered storefront windows, protesters shining flashlights into homes and police officers clashing with protesters and deploying what was described as tear gas.
The unrest was sparked after Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm declined to pursue charges against Wauwatosa Officer Joseph Mensah, who is also Black, for his involvement in the Feb. 2 death of Alvin Cole. It was the third fatal shooting involving Mensah, authorities said.
In a 14-page letter, Chisholm said evidence indicated Cole, 17, fled from police with a stolen 9-mm firearm, fired a shot and ignored orders to drop the gun. Mensah was responding to a mall after receiving reports about a suspect with a gun.
The death has sparked protests and Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, activated the National Guard as a precaution.
In a statement, U.S. Attorney Matthew Krueger said federal law enforcement personnel have partnered with state and local authorities to address any potential violence.
“Federal law enforcement in Wisconsin is sworn to protect First Amendment rights, which include the rights to speak and assemble ‘peacefully,'” he said. “In the past year, however, in addition to witnessing peaceful protests, some Wisconsin communities have suffered episodes of violent civil unrest.
“Federal law imposes serious penalties for arson, rioting, firearms offenses, and other violent crimes, which we will prosecute to the fullest extent possible,” the statement continued. “No one else in Wisconsin should become a victim of needless violence or face destruction of a business as a result of unrest.”
The warning seemed to do little to quell the evening’s unrest.
Authorities in Wauwatosa used pepper balls and tear gas against the crowd and some in the crowd tossed eggs and water bottles, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
There were reports of rioters smashing windows and targeting homes.
The paper reported that a group of young men looted a gas station. The paper cited Julio Rosas, a reporter at Townhall.com, who shot a video that showed protesters knocking over displays and running out with various merchandise.
The rioters also appeared to loot a nearby gas station mart.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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