Wisconsin Right Now

Black Wearing Men Pull Down American Flag in Wauwatosa

Wisconsin Right Now witnessed two men dressed all in black pulling down an American flag outside Longfellow Middle School.

The scene occurred as a crowd of protesters, some carrying signs, gathered around City Hall right as the 7 p.m. curfew hit on Oct. 9. Police in riot gear and National Guard were seen organizing around 75th and Center. The crowd numbered about 100 people.

The men lowered the flag. One of them had a backpack.

The scene came after a night of chaos on Oct. 8.

Wauwatosa Police and other law enforcement authorities arrested 24 people “during unlawful demonstrations” on Oct. 8, they revealed in a news release on Oct. 9. Before the arrests started, police say the marchers blocked an undercover police vehicle, trying to gain entry to it, throwing rocks at it, and pointing a gun at the occupants.

They say members of the group then “began going car to car, demanding identification from occupants.” (This was similar to behavior we witnessed when the group showed up at the West Allis Police Department later that night to check on arrested protesters whom they believed were moved there; they aggressively shined strobe lights into the windshields of passing motorists, screaming expletives at people they identified as being out group.)

On Oct. 9, we witnessed people photographing cars and people who were taking pictures. It appeared the protesters were doing counter surveillance.

The night before, a smaller group then tried to force entry at 7:48 p.m. to the Cigarette Depot at N. 76th Street and West Center Street, say police. That resulted in three arrests turned over to Milwaukee Police Department. Marchers then went through a residential neighborhood, violating curfew and “disturbing the peace,” police wrote.

Police added: “These individuals made the choice to engage in public demonstration during an emergency declaration, which had been ordered with the purpose of protecting life and property during this tumultuous time in our community. The arrests were made without regard for who these persons were; rather, they were made based on those individuals’ own decision to willfully violate the emergency order. We can appreciate the anger and frustration that exists among those closely affected by recent events. Moving forward, we ask that all citizens comply with the emergency order in place by remaining away from City of Wauwatosa public spaces.”

At 7:48 p.m., a group of protesters broke away from the main group and attempted to force entry to the Cigarette Depot on the northwest corner of N. 76 St. / W. Center St. Three people were arrested and turned over to the Milwaukee Police Department.The demonstrators continued through a residential area, disturbing the peace all the while violating the emergency curfew order.

Pictures show the damage from Oct. 7. Photos: Jessica McBride Milwaukee

“Citations for violating an emergency order were issued to 19 people. Additional charges may be issued after a comprehensive review of videos, reports, and other evidence,” they wrote.

Police did not release the names of those arrested, but video and widespread social media reports indicated that they included Tracy Cole, the mother of Alvin Cole, the armed teen shot by a police officer after the teen pointed the gun at him in a case ruled lawful self defense by the DA. Cole’s two sisters and the father of Jacob Blame were among those arrested, according to social media accounts. We asked police whether they could confirm that, but haven’t gotten a response yet on the names. Read the story on the mother’s arrest here.

In details that match that incident, police say that they encountered vehicles driving “across all lanes of traffic” and deployed tire deflation devices to protect the public. Some people refused to exit their cars when told they were under arrest.

Wauwatosa was operating under a curfew running from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. The night before police made a single arrest. Sporadic looting broke out, businesses were vandalized, rocks were thrown at police officers, residential neighborhoods faced problems, and there was widespread defiance of curfew.

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