Team ROC, the social justice-focused division of Jay-Z‘s Roc Nation company, is calling out an ad company for repeatedly declining “on entirely spurious grounds” to accept a billboard campaign about Wisconsin police officer Joseph Mensah.
In a letter released on Thursday, the law firm representing Roc Nation said that Lamar Advertising Company’s actions “smack of improper censorship” and reiterated their stance that Mensah remains an “active, lethal threat” to his community.
Lamar Advertising Company is said to have declined to accept a billboard ad from Team ROC earlier this week that included the statement “Officer Mensah must be held accountable.” Per Thursday’s letter, a Lamar rep said the billboard “could have an effect on a future action” and/or represented an “issue with criminal implications.” However, Team ROC noted, neither is mentioned in the company’s Copy Acceptance Policy.
Team ROC then proposed alternative copy that instead included the statement “Police officers shouldn’t murder innocent people,” which Lamar also declined for the same reasons. According to Team Roc lawyer Jordan Siev, this “improper censorship” on an issue with “considerable public interest” could represent a violation of First Amendment rights.
Mensah fatally shot Alvin Cole, 17, in February. And while authorities have argued that Cole fired a weapon at some point during the incident, his family has disputed this and pushed back against such a narrative. Now, thanks in part to the nationwide protests that have helped define 2020 in terms of how citizens have responded to police brutality, demonstrations continue in and around Wauwatosa in support of Mensah’s firing.
As made clear in the Team ROC ads, Mensah’s prior history includes killing Antonio Gonzales in 2015 and Jay Anderson Jr. in 2016.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported earlier this month that State Rep. David Bowen had come forward to dispute the narrative from Mensah regarding an incident that occurred at a recent protest, arguing that protesters were actually provoked by Mensah and not the other way around. According to the Wauwatosa Police Department, an investigation remains in progress.