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Emotions Run High at Milwaukee Fire & Police Commission Meeting

LaToya Dennis

The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission last night held its first meeting since Police Chief Edward Flynn fired Officer Christopher Manney.

Manney shot Dontre Hamilton, an unarmed mentally ill man, 14 times in Red Arrow Park. Last night, supporters of both Manney and Hamilton packed the Washington Park Senior Center. WUWM’s LaToya Dennis attended that meeting and has this story.

It was standing room only as hundreds of supporters showed up for both men. If seating hadn’t run out on one side sooner than the other, the room would have been divided in half. On one side, supporters of Manney. Many were officers in uniform or officers and their families wearing black t-shirts that read “A line too strong to be broken, we stand together.”

Credit LaToya Dennis
Police officer speaks in support of Christopher Manney

On the other side, you had Dontre Hamilton supporters all carrying signs that read “What if he was your brother” and “Can Dontre Appeal?”

Throughout the public comment portion of the meeting there was lots chanting and yelling and pleading with the commission to do what they believe is the right thing. Curtis Sails was the first person to speak, and summed up very well the feeling of Hamilton supporters.

“It is our belief that no officer should be above the law, and Christopher Manney should not have the ability to be reinstated to a police force whose duty is to protect and serve the citizenry of our community. We are also asking this commission and our city that Manney be immediately arrested and charged for the murder of Dontre Hamilton. We are asking this commission where you as our fellow citizens of this community to not let this injustice go unpunished. And take what many from our community believe to be the first step in writing the wrong of this police officers negligence and excessive use of force,” Sails says.

Credit LaToya Dennis
Dontre Hamilton supporters hold up signs during Fire and Police Commission meeting

Throughout the night Manney supporters also addressed the commission. We heard from police officers and their family members as well as President of the Milwaukee Police Association Mike Crivello, to the displeasure of a lot of the audience.

“Officer Manney properly articulated his reasonable suspicion, which prompted the pat down. When the situation created the necessity for the use of deadly force PO Manney did what he had to. He certainly would rather not have had to. We are grateful he survived. One more picture on that wall we do not need. While we are united in our statement of no confidence as to the chief, 99.3 percent voted no confidence. I am 100 percent confident that a certain peace maybe born out of tragedy. We are saddened by the loss of Mr. Hamilton. We have compassion for the family. I have prayed for peace for the Hamilton family,” Crivello says.  

Emotions ran high throughout the meeting.

After all was said and done Chief Flynn took the time to address the media. He responded to being heckled for checking his phone during the meeting. He says he was looking for updates on a five year old girl shot and killed in a drive by shooting.

“I take it personally, okay. We’re going up there and there’s a bunch of cops processing the scene of a dead kid. And they’re the ones who are going to be out there patrolling and stopping suspects and they have guns under the front seat. They’re the ones that are going to take the risk to their lives to try to clean this thing up. We’re responsible for the things we get wrong and we take action. We’ve arrested cops, we’ve fired cops and so on. But the fact is is that the people out here, some of them who have the most to say are absolutely MIA when it comes to the true threats facing this community. And it gets a little tiresome and when you start getting yelled at for reading the updates for the kid who got shot, yeah you take it personal,” Flynn says.

Community members say that they will continue to call for officer Manney to be charged and to be heard by the Fire and Police Commission.

LaToya was a reporter with WUWM from 2006 to 2021.
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