Celebration disrupted: Nate Hamilton, four others arrested at Milwaukee tree lighting

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee police arrested Nate Hamilton and four other members of the Coalition for Justice at the annual city/county tree lighting ceremony in downtown Milwaukee on Thursday, November 19th. They were arrested for disorderly conduct.

Hamilton protesters

Hundreds came out to watch the tree lighting ceremony, but the songs of children competed with the chants of protesters.

The Coalition for Justice led the demonstration -- angered by a recent decision not to federally charge former Milwaukee police officer, Christopher Manney, for the shooting death of Dontre Hamilton.

Nate Hamilton

"If we don't do something now, we'll get to a point where we'll get submissive to a system that oppresses us," said Nate Hamilton, Dontre Hamilton's brother.

Dontre Hamilton was shot and killed in Red Arrow Park on April 30th, 2014.

Protesters used bull horns and a drum on Thursday. As their chants grew, police stepped in -- and upwards of five people were taken into custody, including Nate Hamilton.

"We've tolerated it and tolerated it and tolerated it in the name of free speech. This is the first time they decided to make their rights more important than the rights of the 500 people who are peaceably assembling with a permit. That's why we took action," said Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn.

Nate Hamilton arrest

An action that protesters say, will not stop them.

"This was a peaceful gathering. A peaceful, lawful demonstration and the police came in and made arrests," said Reverend Steve Jerbi with the Coalition for Justice.

Protesters stood defiantly, but those celebrating proved to be just as determined -- and not letting the protesters cancel a Milwaukee tradition.

Milwaukee tree lighting

The choir director says she was unnerved by what happened Thursday night, but she is proud of the kids for continuing to sing and truly express the message of the songs.