As Milwaukee residents respond to a decision not to charge a former police officer in the shooting death of Dontre Hamilton, the American Civil Liberties Union says it will keep an eye on those demonstrations to make sure protesters’ First Amendment rights are being protected.
ACLU of Wisconsin executive director Chris Ahmuty says the group will have legal observers following the protests today. He says the program “wants to make sure people can exercise their First Amendment rights, without being subject to unreasonable time, place, and manner restrictions by the police.”
In the eight months since Hamilton was shot by former Milwaukee police officer Christopher Manney in Red Arrow Park, family members and supporters have held a number of demonstrations calling for action in the case. Many of those have remained peaceful, although several dozen demonstrators were arrested Friday night after they blocked traffic along Interstate 43. Ahmuty says observers are focused on protecting those who are demonstrating peacefully, and they will not follow those who engage in violence. “If you engage in disruption or violence, that’s not First Amendment protected activity,” he says.
The state activated the Emergency Operations Center in Madison Monday morning to monitor the situation in Milwaukee.