Paul Schmitz writes Huffington Post article about experience being arrested while protesting in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- There's an article making the rounds online that paints a very different picture of demonstrations on I-43 last Friday night, December 19th. It's giving readers a first-hand account of what it was like to march on the interstate and then spend 24 hours behind bars.

Paul Schmitz of Milwaukee wrote a book about social change, and last weekend, he lived it. He has detailed his experience for the Huffington Post after he became one of 74 protesters arrested after the group ended up on I-43 during rush hour Friday.

"When we got to Fond du Lac Ave, our group split in two," Schmitz said.

Schmitz says what he didn't know was that one group was supposed to consist of protesters who were willing to be arrested. The second group was supposed to include protesters who didn't want to go to jail. All were demonstrating in support of Dontre Hamilton, shot and killed by former Milwaukee Police Officer Christopher Manney in Red Arrow Park in April.

"I walked with a group that saw the northbound ramp to I-43 barricaded by Sheriff's vehicles. We did not block the ramp. It was already blocked," Schmitz said.

Police told the crowd to disperse, and Schmitz says they complied by moving to the grass shoulder of the ramp to walk back toward Fond du Lac Avenue.

"When they gave us a warning and said if we did not disperse we`d be arrested, we were arrested anyway," Schmitz said.

Schmitz and others were taken to jail.

"Why did we need to sit in jail for 24 hours to get two tickets?" Schmitz said.

By around 11:00 p.m. Friday, Schmitz was in a 60 square foot holding cell with seven others.

"The young men in my cell were diverse by age, race, and profession," Schmitz writes in his Huffington Post article. After realizing no one was being processed, the entire wing started chanting "we shall overcome."

"The officers I dealt with were all very professional across the board - including when we were in jail," Schmitz said.

Schmitz was released at 5:00 p.m. Saturday.

On Sunday, he submitted his essay to the Huffington Post, not knowing by Monday he'd have to publish an update. While Schmitz says he's upset the District Attorney decided former Milwaukee Police Officer Christopher Manney won't be criminally charged in the shooting death of Dontre Hamilton.

"Frankly, there`s not a death penalty in Milwaukee for sleeping in a park," Schmitz said.

Schmitz says he hopes this movement spurs open and honest dialogue about race, police and civil disobedience.

"The only reason he was deemed dangerous was because of his race and gender.  If that would have been me sleeping in Red Arrow Park, no one would have bothered me," Schmitz said.

Schmitz is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post. He says he participated in the protests last week because he supports the Hamilton family.

CLICK HERE to access Paul Schmitz Huffington Post article.

CLICK HERE for further coverage of the Dontre Hamilton case via