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Protests Continue on Both Sides of the Alledged Police Brutality Debate

LaToya Dennis

There’s going to be a training session Wednesday in Milwaukee – on civil disobedience. And afterwards, a community discussion about justice. The group organizing the events is the Wisconsin Justice Coalition. It formed in response to the police killing of Dontre Hamilton, a man with mental illness. The DA concluded that the officer acted in self-defense; the MPD fired him, for not following protocol. As WUWM reports, there’s no end in sight to protests, and not many people budging.

Last week’s protest of Dontre Hamilton’s death took place on the steps of the federal courthouse in downtown Milwaukee. And this time, there was a well-known guest—the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

“Dontre has more power today in the grave than the killer does walking the streets. Say there’s power…there’s power in the spirit,” Jackson says.

Jackson told the crowd that while Hamilton’s death sparked this movement in Milwaukee about white officers killing black men, the fight is about a lot more.

“Black, white residential segregation, Milwaukee is number one. Worst in the nation. Residential segregation based on poverty, worst in the nation among major metro areas. Number two in all metro areas. Widest gap in test scores, between black and white. Wisconsin has the widest gap in the nation in every test category,” Jackson says.

Jackson says people can no longer brush-off the statistics.

“One thing worse than oppression is to adjust to it. You must never adjust and you must never explain to yourself why it’s alright,” Jackson says.

One person who says he won’t compromise his demands, is Dontre’s brother, Nate Hamilton.

“We are the leaders of the new civil rights movement, we are the future; we are the beginning. We will continue to fight, we will continue to stand up,” Hamilton says.

While Hamilton says he will keep fighting until someone holds police accountable for certain actions, Brian Connolly says he wishes there was more balance.

“I’m not a police officer myself, but I’ve seen a lot of negative things online and posted on Facebook and on television. And you know I just kind of really felt bad for these officers that are going out every single day putting their lives on the line for us. And they are fearful,” Connolly says.

Connolly lives in Wauwatosa. He says last week, more than 100 people joined him at a rally along highway 100 to support police.

“I thought someone needs to tell them that they’re appreciated and that there’s still a majority of us out there that are thankful that we have them,” Connolly says.

Connolly says his rally was not a response to any one event, and he will not comment on the demonstrations occurring in Milwaukee.

“I didn’t want to put anything together going against anybody, I didn’t want to protest anybody. All I wanted to do was just get a group of people together who wanted to say thank you,” Connolly says.

Connolly says he believes everyone has the right to protest, but not to disrupt life for people who have nothing to do with the situation.

Some demonstrators held a so-called die-in at Mayfair Mall and disrupted freeway traffic by walking onto I-43. No word on what actions people may discuss at tonight’s training session on civil disobedience. Some supporters say its purpose, is to make a community feel uncomfortable.

LaToya was a reporter with WUWM from 2006 to 2021.