The billionaire mogul offered to cover the legal fines of peaceful protestors bemoaning the death of a black teen at the hands of police.
A 17-year-old African-American male, Alvin Cole was shot to death by police in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, in February of this year. The individual who shot Cole, Joseph Mensah, is an African-American police officer who has fatally shot two other people in the last five years.
After Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm confirmed on Wednesday that he would not file charges against Mensah, (a decision which was consistent with his past disinclination to charge Mensah over the other two deaths) police clashed with peaceful protestors. Several protestors, including Cole’s mother and two sisters, were arrested.
This prompted rapper JAY-Z to offer financial coverage of any legal fees/fines incurred by the arrested protestors. This was announced through Team ROC, JAY-Z’s social justice branch of his broader ROC Nation Company.
Chris McGrath/Getty Images
The conflict arises as Chisholm claims that Mensah, who reportedly observed Cole holding an unloaded firearm while on his knees, acted in self-defense when he fatally shot Cole in the Mayfair Mall parking lot.
Team ROC additionally responded with the demand that Mensah is relieved of his duties at the Police Department and be legally prosecuted, with Wisconsin Governor, Tony Evers hiring a special prosecutor for the case.
Protest attendance is estimated to have exceeded 100 people, with all participants marching onto the I-94 freeway during rush hour.
A Facebook live-stream shown from within the Cole family car during the protests depicts officers threatening use-of-force upon Cole’s mother, Tracy Cole.
Said the mother, "I can’t believe y’all did this to me. Y’all killed my son,” followed by repeated cries of “I can’t breathe,” to which an officer responded, “Well, that’s too bad.”