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Demonstrators and Police Stand Resolved about Dontre Hamilton Protests

Update, Monday: Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm announced that former police officer Christopher Manney would not be charged for the shooting death of Dontre Hamilton.

Original story, Sunday: Protesters say they will continue, until the family of Dontre Hamilton gets justice. Police say they will continue arresting lawbreakers.

Protests have become a regular occurrence in downtown Milwaukee on Friday evenings. Supporters of the Dontre Hamilton family gather where he died – at Red Arrow Park. They continue waiting for the District Attorney to decide whether he’ll file criminal charges against former officer Christopher Manney.

The MPD fired Manney for failing to follow protocol in confronting Hamilton, as he slept in the park. The 31-year-old was mentally ill and unarmed. He reportedly began struggling with the officer, who then fired 14 shots, killing Hamilton. 

This past Friday, about 100 demonstrators walked from Red Arrow Park, onto I-43, blocking rush-hour traffic.

Sheriff David Clarke says officers arrested 74 people who refused to leave the freeway. He says they were booked, on various charges.

“They range from a citation to misdemeanor and even felony charges. I think it’s important for me, to let people know where the line is, and if they choose to cross it, then we will take appropriate and reasonable measures,” Clarke said.

Both Clarke and Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn say their officers will continue arresting people who don’t heed the law. Flynn says there are legal and safe ways to stage protests.

“There is no constitutional right to break the law,” Flynn said.

Protesters insist they will continue disrupting life as usual here, until the Hamilton family gets some sort of justice for the loss of the 31-year-old. His brother Nate Hamilton, is among them.

“You know that I’m sorry we cause you a small inconveniences. It’s to make sure no family has to go through what we’re going through right now,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton did say, at Friday’s rally, that he hopes District Attorney John Chisholm does not announce his decision about potential charges, in coming days.

“I don’t want to have to bear that type of decision before Christmas, nor my mom. We got this far being strong and it’s kind of like going back to day one, when this decision comes out, back to hearing he got shot 14 times. We don’t want to go back to that place, before Christmas,” Hamilton said.

The district attorney has said he’ll announce his decision, before the end of the year. Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke says, until that time, he understands some demonstrators’ frustration.

“I can only imagine, because I’ve never gone through it, but I can only imagine what the Hamilton family is dealing with right now. I  can also say that it has had a destructive effect on the rest of Milwaukee County, and I’m talking about the delay,” Clarke said.

Hamilton was killed in April. The DA says he has been seeking expert input.

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