Hamilton Family and Supporters Mark One Year Since Dontre's Death
Thursday marked one year since former Milwaukee Police Officer Christopher Manney shot 14 times and killed Dontre Hamilton.
Thursday night, the Hamilton family, along with supporters commemorated Dontre’s life with a march to Red Arrow Park where he was killed. That’s also where the celebration took place. Hundreds of people came out to enjoy the live music, poetry, food and arts and crafts. There were people there of all walks of life and all ages. There was dancing, but there were also tears. At times, Dontre’s mother, Maria Hamilton, was overcome with emotion.
“Going to the grave site today, I know that God had a bigger plan for Dontre’s life. And this right here today is the plan that God had. To use Dontre’s death and life as a seed to build in this community to bring us together so we can live in peace and have justice for all. This is truly a celebration. I love him so much,” Hamilton says.
Hamilton says that 12 months after Dontre’s death, she was finally able to say goodbye.
“We had been out prior to the headstone being ready, and to actually see it there, it was final that the man that I carried for nine months, the man that laid in this park was no more as I knew him. And I said goodbye. I told him it was okay for him to leave now,” Hamilton says.
Nate Hamilton was one of Dontre’s brothers. He says from here on out, every April 30th will be Dontre Day. He also spoke about the fact that the work they’ve begun in holding leaders accountable will not stop.
“We have to unite the community to make sure that our voices are collectively given to public officials and they hear us clearly. I think one person is muffled, but when you put thousands of people together, that’s clear. You can’t hear it any clearer than that. So that's what this is about,” Hamilton says.
This week we’ve seen protests in Baltimore and other cities across the country over the death of Freddie Gray, a young black man who died after suffering a spinal cord injury while in police custody. While most protests have been peaceful some did become violent in Baltimore. Maria Hamilton says they never want to see that type of violence in Milwaukee.
“My prayers go up to Baltimore and all the other cities that are struggling and fighting against each other, but that’s not what this family wants in Milwaukee. We love our city, and we want to be able to live here and have the same values and goals and blessings that everybody else has. I mean regardless of what color you are,” Hamilton says.
Next weekend, the Hamilton family will head to Washington D.C. for a march for mother’s who’ve lost sons to violence.