MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- After months of tension between law enforcement officials and protesters, those in support of police staged a demonstration on New Year's Day Thursday, January 1st. This, as Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke is running radio announcements asking the community to "thank a cop."
Police supporters gathered on Highway 100 near Mayfair Mall on Thursday evening because this was the setting of a protest against police last month. Also on hand -- those who oppose certain police training and tactics.
It began as a rally to show support for police, but soon, those on both sides of the aisle were face-to-face.
"At a certain point, you just have to stand up for what you believe in," Brian Meinzer, on hand in support of police said.
A group of about 50 gathered to show their support for law enforcement officials who work to keep us safe.
"I don't think they get enough recognition for what they do. We're here to support them no matter what," Andrea Vergiels said.
About a half-hour into the demonstration, a group of about a dozen counter-protesters showed up.
"To say that they're here for the police or they're here because all lives matter I think is really a slap in the face to black people and people of color," Brian Rothgery said.
"I'm here for accountability. I'm out here against injustice and I think officers should have penalties for their actions," a counter-protester said.
"Everyone in this group stood back and let them do what they needed to do and say what they needed to say," Brian Connolly, who organized Thursday's demonstration in support of police said of the counter-protesters.
"This movement has shown that it's really powerful and it can take action when and where it chooses," counter-protester Brian Rothgery said.
"It's a little upsetting because a positive thing got turned into a negative thing," Connolly said.
Thursday's demonstration came one day ahead of Rev. Jesse Jackson's planned visit to Milwaukee to continue his call for justice in the Dontre Hamilton case.
Rev. Jackson will join Dontre Hamilton's family members and supporters for a rally and march Friday, January 2nd.
Last week, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm announced Manney won’t face criminal charges in connection with Hamilton’s death.
Manney has been terminated from the Milwaukee Police Department for his handling of Dontre Hamilton in Red Arrow Park April 30th — a termination he is appealing with the Fire and Police Commission.
The United States Attorney has announced the United States Department of Justice will undertake a federal review of this case to determine if, under federal civil rights law, there is a basis, both legal and factual, upon which a federal civil rights prosecution may be premised. This review will be conducted by the FBI, the Office of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, and the Civil Rights Division.
One of the family’s attorneys says they’ve had several discussions with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and they believe that a federal investigation will prove their case and they hope to see charges.
Hamilton’s family attorney says a civil lawsuit is also currently in the works.
"This is not black or white. This is wrong or right. Only those cases that draw the most protests and most attention are acknowledged, but it is an unmistakable pattern: injustice leads to chaos and despair," Rev. Jackson said.
In a new radio announcement, Sheriff Clarke says it's people like Rev. Jackson and the protesters who are sewing the seeds of chaos.
"Aided by cop-hating anarchists, they're slandering your community's finest. Are we perfect? Far from it. But our communities would collapse into chaos without us. Somebody's got to stand up for cops. Cops have been used as a whipping post. Unjustified hatred. Blamed for things that don't exist," Sheriff Clarke said.
Sheriff Clarke has linked the ongoing protests over police training and tactics to the murder of two New York police officers -- saying police deserve to be praised, not protested.
"I don't call it a protest. From what I've seen, it's a mob. I'm not going to stand by and watch some two-bit politician try to score some cheap political points at the expense of our community's finest," Sheriff Clarke said.
"We do not want any confusion about the deranged shooting of the police in New York with these protests. To compare them is unfair, and completely off the point," Rev. Jackson said.
Last weekend, when he stood with Dontre Hamilton's family in Chicago, Rev. Jackson said the protests are aimed at improving relations between members of the community and police officers -- not straining them.
"Police and people must coexist in a peaceful and respectful relationship, and that is not happening. That is what concerns us so very much," Rev. Jackson said.
Rev. Jackson and Dontre Hamilton supporters are expected to meet Friday afternoon, January 2nd at 2:30 p.m. in Red Arrow Park.
- Dontre Hamilton supporters to join Rev. Jesse Jackson in Milwaukee Friday, January 2nd
- Protesters stage a “die-in” at Mayfair Mall in support of Dontre Hamilton
- Sheriff Clarke: Shoot a gun into the air to celebrate New Year's Eve and you'll be charged with a felony
- YouTube video shows protestors on I-794; Sheriff Clarke, Chief Flynn discuss arrests
CLICK HERE for complete coverage of the Dontre Hamilton case via FOX6Now.com.