The name “Ronald Bell” appears on a letter written by “The People’s Revolution” group addressed to the Wauwatosa Mayor and Common Council. The letter was sent to the Mayor and Common Council on July 9. The Wauwatosa Police and Fire Commission voted to suspend Officer Mensah on July 15.
The letter repeatedly referred to the protestors as “peaceful” and called for the firing of Wauwatosa Police Chief Barry Weber and Police Officer Joseph Mensah, a Black officer who shot and killed three people on-duty since 2015; the first two shootings were ruled justified self defense by the District Attorney’s office and the third is still being reviewed. All three subjects were armed with weapons. It was included in the agenda packet for a July 15 Common Council meeting.
“The People’s Revolution” is associated with the Milwaukee-area Black Lives Matter movement and has a Facebook group page. The group has organized many of the protests in Milwaukee and Wauwatosa, including those at Mayfair Mall.
Who is Ronald D. Bell Jr.?
Ronald D Bell Jr. is accused in the highly publicized Aug. 8 shooting incident at Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah’s girlfriend’s house. Bell was arrested and charged with felony charges for second-degree recklessly endangering safety and battery to a law enforcement officer. According to the criminal complaint, Bell is accused of attacking Officer Mensah and holding a shotgun that discharged and struck Mensah’s residence during the incident. Wisconsin Right Now had earlier reported that Bell’s Facebook page posted a tribute to the Gangster Disciples street gang, flashed large quantities of cash, and posted pictures of what appeared to be drugs.
“The People’s Revolution” Letter
“The People’s Revolution” letter was sent to the Wauwatosa Mayor and common council on July 9, 2020 and reads in part:
“The protestors who have assembled in Wauwatosa and at Mayfair Mall, on July 7th and in the preceding weeks, have been nothing but peaceful.”
“You should also be aware that these protestors are not outside agitators with no stake in the community.”
‘We are troubled, too, by the actions of Mayor McBride and the common council who, according to officers, instructed the Wauwatosa Police Department to show incredible force and arrest, detain, harass, and intimidate peaceful protestors.”
“Is the harassment and intimidation of peaceful protestors worth putting the public at risk?”
“Are you proud of your Chief of Police, who was present at The Cheesecake Factory, for his use of taxpayer dollars to intimidate peaceful protestors?”
“And the senseless arrests of peaceful protestors-are at the heart of Wauwatosa’s policing problems.”
“At this time, there will be no business as usual in Wauwatosa. The urgency of now requires you to act.”
The letter also listed 10 demands:
1. Public Comment must first and foremost be allowed from Attorney Kimberley Motley and/or Attorney Deja Vishny, who represent the families of Alvin Cole, Jay Anderson Jr., and associates of Antonio Gonzales.
2. The Common Council and particularly Mayor McBride must issue a formal apology to the above-named Attorneys and families for the disrespectful treatment of them by public officials at recent public meetings.
3. The Mayor and Common Council must recommend to tlie Fire and Police Commission to immediately open an investigation into the harassment of the Cole family, protestors, and attorneys by the Wauwatosa Police Department. We specifically ask that the Commission undertake an investigation into the assault of Alvin Cole’s sister by Officer N. Stahl on July 7’h at The Cheesecake Factory.
4. The Mayor and Common Council must formally request that Chief Barry Weber and the Fire and Police Commission fire Officer Joseph Mensah. While you cannot fire Mensah, no Wisconsin law prevents you from urging the Fire and Police Commission to do so.
5. Chief of Police Barry Weber has held his position since the 1980s with seemingly little oversight from the Fire and Police Commission. For months he has purposely withheld critical information from the agencies investigating Alvin Cole’s death. He is not the police chief we need for this critical moment that Wauwatosa faces. We ask the Mayor and Common Council to issue a formal statement to the Fire and Police Commission declaring a loss of faith and confidence in Chief of Police Barry Weber.
6. While the Mayor and Common Council do not have the legal authority to fire officers or the Chief of Police, they do hold the much more powerful authority of the City’s purse. We ask that a permanent hold be put on any increase in the budget to the Wauwatosa Police Department. Further, we ask that the Common Council pass a resolution declaring that the Wauwatosa Police Department is barred from purchasing or accepting any surplus military equipment from the U.S. Department of Defense under the Military Cooperation with Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies Act or any other State or Federal legislation. If exigent circumstances occur that the Chief of Police finds it necessary to still obtain this equipment, he must personally appear before the Common Council to explain and justify the need, and the Common Council must approve by a majority the purchase.
7. We ask that the Common Council immediately take rip and consider all items that were unanimously agreed upon at the Equality and Inclusion Commission Meeting held on June 25, 2020. We do not wish for any of these items to first be referred to committee.
8. We ask for full transparency on which Wauwatosa elected official(s) instructed the Wauwatosa Police Department to make arrests and respond excessively to the peaceful protestors at Mayfair Mall and The Cheesecake Factory on July 7th. We ask for a breakdown of the costs of this response, particularly the request of assistance from four outside law enforcement agencies and the costs of the accident that was caused by the reckless response of one of these outside agencies.
9. We ask that the Wauwatosa City Attorney immediately dismiss any municipal citations issued to the two protestors who were arrested and detained on July 7fh at The Cheesecake Factory. It should also be noted that one of the arrests resulted in significant bruising and contusions to the forearm of a protestor due to the excessive force used by your officers.
10. Finally, we demand a commitment from the Mayor and the Common Council that any future changes in policing that have the potential to increase the Police Department budget (i.e. purchase and implementation of body cameras) be offset in equal measure from the Police Department budget. No monies from schools, public works, or other public services should be diverted in order to hold our police accountable.
Disclosure: Jessica McBride, a contributor at Wisconsin Right Now, is the niece of Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride. Jim Piwowarczyk, the owner of Wisconsin Right Now, is the author of this story.