image from GoFundMe
Dozens of “protesters” descended on the home of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin police officer Joseph Mensah over the weekend, with at least one firing a shotgun at the rear of the residence while others vandalized the structure, all while the officer, his girlfriend, and her children were trapped inside.
In a statement on Facebook, Mensah said that he tried to engage with the dozens of individuals outside his house on Saturday evening, but was physically assaulted instead. After returning to his home, Mensah reported that at least one round from a shotgun was fired into the home, the slug missing him “by inches.”
“I am all for peaceful protests, even against me, but this was anything but peaceful,” Mensah said.
“The irony in all of this is that they chanted Black Lives Matter the entire time, but had zero regard for any of the black children that live there or me, a black man,” Mensah wrote.
This wasn’t a random attack on the officer and his home. According to FOX 6 in Milwaukee, Mensah is currently on suspension while the Milwaukee County D.A.’s office investigates the officer’s fatal shooting of 17-year old Alvin Cole earlier this year. Cole is the third suspect killed by Mensah in the past five years, though he’s been cleared of wrongdoing in the two earlier cases by the D.A. The lack of charges hasn’t meant much to the increasingly violent protesters that have been demanding that Mensah be both fired by the police department and charged by prosecutors.
While the city’s common council has already taken steps to remove Mensah from his position on the police force, the vigilante mob that descended on Mensah’s home on Saturday night clearly isn’t concerned about legalities like due process or even attempted murder. Ironically, I’m sure many in the crowd support the idea of defunding or abolishing the police, even as their actions will cause many more residents to side with law enforcement.
For now, police say they’re continuing to investigate, but no arrests have been made. Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride is vowing to take additional steps to “ensure that Officer Mensah is fully protected and that criminal behavior of this kind will not happen again.”
“During this difficult time, I ask all members of the community to reflect on their personal responsibility to engage in responsible and civil behavior. Now more than ever, it is essential that we all work together to heal a divided community. This will require patience and an understanding that, though changes must occur, they can only occur through the functioning of democratic processes and not through violence.”
The biggest step that can be taken is to ensure that any members of the mob targeting Mensah with violence are actually arrested and charged. Actions without consequence will lead to more of those actions, and if the city isn’t serious about protecting members of the public from mob violence, they’ll likely see more vigilantism against members of their police force or anyone else the mob decides to go after. Here’s hoping that local leaders find some steel in their spine and make some arrests before the crowd pays Joseph Mensah another late night vigilante visit. After all, if more shots are fired, Mensah will be well within his rights to defend himself, his girlfriend, and any kids inside the home from the deadly threat at their door.