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I-43 shut down in protests against racist police killings

By staff |
December 22, 2014
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Milwaukee, WI - Two coordinated actions against racist police killings met at Interstate 43, Dec. 19, resulting in the arrest of 74 people. Ongoing protests have been targeting Milwaukee cop Christopher Manney, who shot unarmed 31-year-old Dontre Hamilton in a public park in downtown Milwaukee April 30. The Hamilton family and their supporters are demanding that Manney be charged with murder. The struggle for justice in this case has ties to the national #blacklivesmatter movement.

The first group, organized through the African American Roundtable, had 12 full cars go onto the highway in the north and south-bound lanes near downtown Milwaukee at 4:30 - the height of rush hour traffic. At a designated location, the cars fanned out and did not allow other cars to pass. Everyone then got out of their cars and shut down the highway for about 20 minutes chanting "Black lives matter!" and "No justice, no compromise!" When the sheriff's office finally made it to the protesters, the leader of the action told everyone to get back in their cars, with no arrests being made.

At the same time, a march being led by the Coalition for Justice, led by the Hamilton family, came from downtown to meet the other protesters who had shut down the highway. Two groups went on the north and south-bound on ramps while the rest of the march stayed on the street. Protesters were blocked on the ramp by the sheriff's department and 73 people were arrested.

Both groups then went to the First District police headquarters, protesting the arrests. A large police presence was outside, while over 100 people rallied.

They then moved to the county jail where protesters were taken after the arrests. A group of about 80 people stayed for several hours in freezing temperature. The group was energized and were chanting, singing and dancing.

At one point a confrontation happened between the protesters and the cops on the inside of the jail as they tried pulling one of the peaceful protesters inside the jail. The group outside was able to pull her to safety, but three officers pulled out their stun guns - that many in the crowd initially thought were guns - and the officers pulled her back and, in arresting her, slammed her her to the ground. As this was happening another officer came to the crowd with a large german shepherd that was barking uncontrollably.

About 20 officers with the sheriff's department then came and stood in a line at a nearby intersection, with some advancing towards the crowd. The crowd turned their full attention to the officers and started chanting "I don't see no riot here, take off that riot gear," and "If we don't get no justice, you don't get no peace."

After no arrests, the officers eventually left to the crowd singing "Nanana nananana, heeeeey goodbye."

During this time, the police were giving information to the Hamilton family about those arrested. All of the information they provided was inaccurate as to when people were going to be released.

A large portion of the group left around 12:30 a.m. after they were told that the earliest people would be released was 6 a.m. A group of about 15 people stayed, including Nate Hamilton, Dontre's brother.

A lot of people came back in the morning, again waiting in the cold for several hours to show solidarity with those arrested and waiting for their loved ones to be released. After 26 hours every person arrested was released. Legally for this type of citation, the police are only supposed to legally hold people for four to six hours after having been booked.

Each person received two citations totaling about $700, with some people getting larger amounts for allegedly resisting arrest. The total cost is around $40,000. You can donate online to the citation fund here:

Though the police from the sheriff's office and the Milwaukee Police Department are threatening and trying to intimidate the protesters, they plan to keep up their actions. The National Guard has been called to Milwaukee, for the announcement of whether the killer cop will be indicted or will walk free like too many other police officers have.