Tension between police, protesters at Red Arrow Park: "They don't want us to take to the street"

MILWAUKEE -- Protesters gathered in downtown Milwaukee on Tuesday, July 12th for the second straight day -- to voice their concerns over recent officer-involved shootings in Louisiana (Alton Sterling) and Minnesota (Philando Castile).

The Coalition for Justice planned what they called a peaceful protest -- gathering at Red Arrow Park.

The planned protest got the attention of the Milwaukee Police Department. Chief Ed Flynn released a statement ahead of the planned rally and protest Tuesday.

And things got heated between police and protesters over whether the group would follow MPD's orders during the march and protest.

Chief Flynn in his statement encouraged protesters to obtain a permit for their demonstration -- and police said since that was not done, protesters must stay on the sidewalk, or risk arrest.

"Why can't y'all walk with us? Why can't y'all march with us? We ain't out here trying to rabble-rouse or commit violent crimes," Nate Hamilton said.

"You are not allowed on the roadway without a permit. That's your option. We offered options today. If there's a deviation from those options, we have to look at arrests," James Harpole, MPD assistant chief said.

"They don't want us to take to the street," Maria Hamilton said.

Tensions eventually died down, and protesters abided by the rules. They marched without incident.

"We are going to go around and love everyone for who they are. We tried to do that with the police, but they are unresponsive," Hamilton said.

No one was arrested during Tuesday's demonstration.

Those with the Coalition for Justice said they'll meet on Thursday to organize a bigger march -- one where people may be willing to be arrested.

Below is Chief Flynn's complete statement, issued ahead of Tuesday's rally and march:

"The Milwaukee Police Department is committed to protecting the rights and safety of everyone. Our Department has demonstrated commitment to the protection of First Amendment rights by successfully policing dozens of demonstrations without significant incidents. This has been accomplished despite the fact that the majority of these protests were conducted without securing the appropriate permits.

In light of recent national events, the Milwaukee Police Department renews its commitment to protecting the right to protest. We recognize that protecting the right of those dissatisfied with the state of American policing is the ultimate test of our professionalism.

Policing a democracy is a constant balancing act between the rights of the many and the rights of the few. That balance is most challenging when the unfettered rights of the few create substantial risk of harm to law-abiding citizens.

The Milwaukee Police Department encourages those who are committed to continuing disruptive protests to abide by the law and to secure the necessary permits for occupation of parks or for defined routes of march in Downtown neighborhoods.

We caution those who believe they are marching in a good cause to recognize that deviation from permitted routes of march puts other people at risk besides the marchers including those trapped in traffic jams and those on their way to essential business or personal emergencies. Most specifically, deviation from routes of march require a commitment of manpower hours from Milwaukee Police which draws significant police resources away from high crime neighborhoods and puts residents of those neighborhoods at significant risk of injury. It is no secret that our most disadvantaged neighborhoods are the very same areas most afflicted by high rates of violent crime. Those who would advocate for the residents of those neighborhoods by protesting must recognize their advocacy risks doing real harm.

MPD will continue to work with protest groups to ensure safe expression of their constitutional rights and we urge them to recognize their responsibility to society. As we balance these rights and responsibilities, it may be our reluctant duty to make arrests unless organizers take the appropriate steps to work with us to ensure everyone’s safety."

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett issued this statement:

“In light of recent national events, I want to reinforce the importance of police and community cooperation.

The Milwaukee Police Department is committed to protecting the rights of individuals to protest. The Department has consistently attempted to strike the right balance between protecting First Amendment rights and protecting the safety of the general public. Individuals participating in the demonstrations and marches have consistently shown respect for the rights and freedoms of others.

This balance must be maintained.

To do so, I encourage leaders of planned demonstrations to secure the necessary permits and to stay within the boundaries of the defined routes.

I also encourage that the dialogue between the Milwaukee Police Department and the demonstrators continue. It is imperative, for the safety of all citizens and police officers, that vehicle and pedestrian traffic safety are not compromised.

The protections offered under the First Amendment and the general health and safety of all citizens are equally important and we all have the responsibility to maintain that balance.”

Below is a statement posted to the Coalition for Justice's Facebook page regarding Tuesday's protest:

"The Coalition for Justice calls on the Milwaukee community to join in peaceful protest today at Red Arrow Park.

In light of the recent cases of police brutality in our city, state, and in other states across the nation, we must unify to fight for justice. Republicans in our state are mirroring the xenophobic response to the current Black liberation movement that conservative politicians have already begun to rally behind.

The proposal of the “Blue Lives Matter Bill” by Rep. David Steffen of Green Bay demonstrates an attempt at conserving and protecting White elitism and power in this country. This bill will seek stronger penalties when a police officer, firefighter, or emergency medical crew is intentionally targeted for their profession. While the Coalition does not condone the recent events that took place in Dallas, which resulted in the deaths of five police officers, we do not place a higher value on one life over another.

The FBI’s defines a hate crime as an offense that is “motivated by biases based on race, gender, gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, and ethnicity. If racial profiling and the intentional targeting of Blacks in America have not been duly categorized or punished as hate crimes, then we must not create a double standard.

A hate crime is… enslavement of African peoples by European colonizers.

A hate crime is… removal of indigenous populations from their native land.

A hate crime is… the ruthless slaughter of millions of Jews by the Nazi regime.

A hate crime is… mob violence and lynchings of African Americans as a tactic of fear and intimidation.

A hate crime is…. Assault of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

A hate crime is… the burning of the sixteenth Street Church in Birmingham Alabama where four little girls sat, and it is the shooting in Charleston Carolina at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

A hate crime… racial profiling.

A hate crime is the fourteen shot that were laid into Dontre Hamilton’s Body by former Police Officer Christopher Manney.

A hate crime is... denying the protection of civil rights to a group of people on the basis of the pigmentation of their skin.

A hate crime is...the punches, kicks, strangulation, brutalization, and shots that have been fired into numerous Black bodies across the country.

No life is more valuable than another.

The Coalition will continue to take every necessary action to positively influence public policy in a fashion that protects the rights of marginalized groups, in its fights towards the liberation of Black people.

Today the Coalition for Justice invites the community to join in peaceful protest and solidarity with the families of those who have lost loved ones to the hands of police brutality, racism, and hate.

Join us at Red Arrow Park. We must continue to press for justice and peace ‪#‎Rise4Justice‬