Rioters attacked businesses and homes, breaking windows and looting as they marched through Wauwatosa Wednesday night ostensibly to protest the shooting of Alvin Cole by Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah. As others called for peace before the riot, the Assemblyman for the area was noticeably silent.
On Thursday, state Rep. Robyn Vining (D-Wauwatosa) broke her silence, but the statement was a vacuous gesture at best. Instead of condemning the rioters for the damage to homes and businesses, Vining issued a general rejection of “violence in all forms” and no statement of support for law enforcement.
“Our community is hurting deeply right now. My sincere thoughts are with Alvin Cole’s family and loved ones. We must, as a community, each of us, everyone, government officials, employees, citizens, draw together and do the hard work of healing and movement toward a more fair and just world.
“We reject violence in all forms. We condemn destruction of human life and property. And we cling to one another with shared hope.
“Progress begins with the hard work of acknowledging each other’s pain, seeking to understand the history, and the present, rejecting forces of division, and drawing toward each other in commitment to a shared future.
“Forward together, not one step back.”
Vining claims to have been checking on “community members and businesses” Wednesday night. If she had been, she might have noticed the smashed windows on residences, the looted gas station and the vandalized after school and reading program storefront. Vining might have even noticed that the National Guard was needed to prevent her city from becoming another Kenosha.
Fortunately, Vining’s Republican opponent in the November election Bonnie Lee has a firmer grip on the terror her community is facing. Lee issued a statement before the riot calling for demonstrations to be peaceful. On Thursday, Lee strongly denounced the violence in her city.
“My morning walk through our Wauwatosa neighborhood takes me past several shop fronts as I make my way to the corner coffee shop. Normally, it’s a great way to start the day. But this morning was different. This morning’s walk took me past neighbors boarding up broken storefront windows.”
“Last night, rioters took to Wauwatosa streets in response to a long-awaited announcement, regarding an officer-involved shooting. Eight months after the incident, Milwaukee County D.A. John Chisholm announced that sufficient evidence exists that Officer Joseph Mensah believed deadly force was necessary to stop Alvin Cole. Thus, Mensah will not face charges in the fatal shooting of Cole.”
“We anticipated protests and had hoped all would remain peaceful. As many have seen in videos circulating the internet, they did not. Instead, these lawless rioters hurled rocks and water bottles through windows.
These are neighbors you have hurt:
The woman who owns the local wallpaper store, a business that has been a staple along North Ave. for 35 years.
The family who immigrated from South Korea 20-years ago and opened a dry-cleaning shop at this location 12-years ago.
The owner of our pharmacy, anchoring the corner of North Ave. and Swan Blvd. for years.
The local Kumon site owners, a business that has helped many families with their children’s math and reading, especially during this time of school disruptions.
The owners of the nearby corner gas station that was looted last night.”
“This lawlessness must stop now. Though we are grateful that no one was hurt last night, we are all concerned about what the coming nights could bring. Resorting to rioting puts the entire community at risk. Most importantly, it completely shuts down dialog.”
“I wholeheartedly support the first amendment, but nowhere in the amendment does it permit the destruction of property and infringing on the rights of fellow citizens. Our elected officials need to balance and respect the rights of every citizen. Within the framework of the law, there is room for both the first amendment and public safety. Elected officials, your constituents have the right to hold you accountable for this most basic function of government.”