Two Years Later, How Dontre Hamilton's Family Has Changed
On Saturday, the family of Dontre Hamilton will celebrate his life. It will mark two years since Hamilton was shot and killed by Milwaukee police officer, Christopher Manney. He was later fired for not following department protocol when he attempted to pat down Hamilton and an altercation occurred leading Manney to shoot Hamilton 14 times. Hamilton was schizophrenic.
Hamilton’s death came before that of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, but protests here didn’t heat up until after the Mike Brown case.
In the time since Hamilton's death, his mother Maria and his brother Nate have become outspoken on the issue of police brutality and are helping families across the country to heal. Maria Hamilton started a group called Mother’s for Justice and is even campaigning with Democrat Hillary Clinton. Nate Hamilton started a local group called Coalition for Justice, it advocates against police brutality.
The two say that over the last two years, they’ve been able to accomplish a lot. For example, Milwaukee officers now undergo CIT – training in how to deal with people who have mental illnesses, and, independent doctors now decide whether to grant officers – such as the former one who killed Hamilton, duty disability retirement.
On Police Activity
“I see the police as well as an occupying force, but when it comes to the excessive amount of force that they’ve been using, I feel like that has been withdrawn a little bit,” Nate Hamilton says.
“In order for me to go and speak with these moms that are being traumatized, after their loved ones is (are) killed, I had to get healthy. So I enrolled myself in a CCS program where I do counseling twice a week. I just got through doing yoga, I do it every morning. I’m getting healthy, I’m being nourished so I can actually help my mom’s feel better about themselves,” Maria Hamilton says.
“My whole mindset has changed in the last two years because it’s like you know what, I need to be more responsible for myself. I got (have) this platform, and people are listening to me and if I’m not displaying that myself, how will I be accepted? How will they follow after me and I’m not providing them with a good image of what it’s supposed to look like?” Nate Hamilton says.
Baggage That Comes With Being Faces of the Movement
“One comment I believe said all the shootings on the north side, why hasn’t one of those bullets found this family yet? People are so hateful and they want to see us fail I believe. And they think like alright, this family is going to get some money and run away from the situation, they’re going to close their eyes. No we’re not going to close our eyes, we’re going to continue to fight,” Nate Hamilton says.
“If you look at my house, it’s peaceful. I feel his presence and his spirit here. Dontre lives,” Maria Hamilton says.
Earlier this week, the family filed a civil lawsuit against not only Christopher Manny, but the city of Milwaukee as well. Manney never faced criminal charges at the state or federal level.