Alyssa Mauk, ACLU of Wisconsin communications director,

MILWAUKEE — The ACLU of Wisconsin today issued a statement after Wauwatosa police on Thursday night arrested a group of protestors, including Alvin Cole’s mother and detained Jacob Blake’s father, a day after Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm decided not to charge Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah for Cole’s fatal shooting. 

Chris Ott, Executive Director of the ACLU of Wisconsin, issued the following statement:

“Wauwatosa Police last night handled peaceful protestors in a cruel, racist, and inept way. While Tracy Cole, Alvin Cole’s mother, grieved the loss of her son at the hands of police, as well as the justice that was denied to her and her family this week, she was arrested and injured by police while protesting. Law enforcement also detained Jacob Blake Sr., the father of Jacob Blake, the man paralyzed after a Kenosha police officer shot him seven times in the back in August.

It is reprehensible that police would add such insult to injury for these two parents, who are still mourning the inhumane treatment their sons received by police. These families have already lost so much to police brutality. What police did to them last night only compounds their suffering. 

The assault of Ms. Cole, who suffered an injury to her arm during her unnecessary arrest, only provides more evidence of how reflexively law enforcement resorts to excessive force against protestors, even in non-threatening situations. 

The curfew that Wauwatosa imposed to keep people safe is not protecting the people who need it most. It appears that its only application is to give police a free pass to arrest and injure people exercising their First Amendment right to protest. A curfew violation does not give officers license to perpetrate violence against the citizens they are sworn to serve and protect.

Law enforcement continues to provoke protestors with a heavy-handed and militarized presence in the streets, escalating tensions between police and protestors. Police then point to the protestors’ reactions to that provocation as justification for violence. The peaceful protestors are not the problem — it is law enforcement preemptively ordering a curfew and arresting those protesting that has escalated the situation. We’ve seen this same pattern of heavy-handed, misguided policing in Portland and Kenosha, and events last night make clear in a new and terrible way that this needs to stop.”

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