Fake news does real damage


The Journal Sentinel covers a day-by-day timeline of the case against Officer Joseph Mensah. But forgets (ignores?) Alvin’s Cole’s role in its entirety.

The story starts June 3rd. Not February 2nd when Cole died, but June 3rd after George Floyd’s death:

June 3:

Days after protests started in Milwaukee, more than 500 people gathered near Wauwatosa City Hall to chant, kneel and hold signs during a peaceful event to celebrate the life of George Floyd.

"We said why not do something here and demonstrate that we are impacted by it emotionally and show our solidarity with the family of George Floyd," said Craig Brittingham, an organizer of the event.

July 2:

A full-page ad in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on July 2 from three activist groups —Team ROC, Until Freedom and Gathering for Justice — called on Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm to prosecute Mensah. The groups also want Mensah to be decertified and fired immediately.

A Wall Street Journal story highlighting the fatal shootings was published around the same time. Since then, several other national publications and media outlets have reported on the shootings, including Al Jazeera and The Washington Post.

July 12:

A nearly five-hour public listening session at Hart Park allowed the community to comment on race, equity and police issues.

A majority of the more than 50 speakers asked city officials to fire Mensah. There were about 150 people spread out across the bleachers, and others spoke remotely via Zoom.

"We want him fired and convicted, and I’m not gonna rest until it’s done,” said Tracy Cole, the mother of Alvin Cole. “Do the right thing, and fire him right away.”

July 28:

"It'd be one thing if there was any kind of cause, whatsoever, for my actions," Mensah told radio host Dan O'Donnell during an interview on WISN-AM (1130). "But I defended myself, several times. Proven that I defended myself several times.

"Not one person, not one person, has been able to come to me, or to give me any explanation for why I'm suspended, other than 'oh, he shot somebody,' even though it's justified. Proven justified."

August 14:

Wauwatosa police arrested two people during a protest. One of the arrests, which took place after officers pulled a man from a bicycle and tackled him, set off a tense, nearly 90-minute standoff with demonstrators.

Protesters gathered around squad cars yelling at police and demanding that the man be released.

The entire piece either puts all of the responsibility on Mensah, or leaves responsibility off the table all together.

The timeline is useless without any context, or explanation of what the men who tried to kill Mensah did. This is how the media can frame someone, and ruin their lives, all while reporting “just the facts.”

Officer Mensah is right to be confused by this and angry. And so are we. The question remains, what will Wauwatosa’s so-called leaders do about it.

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