Milwaukee, WI - One year ago this past Thursday 14 shots forever changed Dontre Hamilton’s family and the city of Milwaukee. Much has happened since those fatal shots left Milwaukee police officer Christopher Manney’s gun. Since that day in April the Coalition for Justice has worked hard to highlight the injustices of a system that allows officers like Manney to go free. Though some progress has been made, on Thursday the Hamilton family made clear that much remains to be done.
MPD’s liaison officers spoke to the Hamilton family at the Center Street Library before the march began. Earlier in the week, MPD had told the family they needed a permit for the march. The Coalition replied that Dontre’s blood was their permit.
After a press conference, the Coalition began the 3-mile march down Fond du Lac Avenue to Red Arrow Park, where Dontre was murdered a year ago.
People poured their creative energy into artwork commemorating Dontre.
The Coalition received a lot of support along the route of the march, including this man who raised a fist in solidarity as 15 bicycle cops went by.
Residents along the march route shouted words of support and took photos from their windows.
Another local comes out of a business to lend his support to the marchers.
A marcher carrying a child holds his fist in the air along the way.
The Coalition for Justice continues to make calls for federal charges against Officer Manney.
Children on a playground ran to observe the march through a line of MPD officers.
At several intersections along the way, marchers paused to let passersby know what had happened a year before.
MPD bicycle cops rode in long lines on each side of the march for the entire route.
After the 3-mile journey the march arrived at Red Arrow Park.
A talented group of musicians played throughout most of the night.
Signs were placed on the Starbucks building from which the police were called because Dontre was sleeping in the adjoining park. The store was closed on the day of the march, as it often is when protests related to Dontre’s death are held.
Stones were painted with messages, and used to create a memorial for Dontre.
T-shirts with Dontre’s likeness and the Coalition for Justice logo were painted at the park.
Volunteers painted children’s faces at the park.
At one point, the Hamilton family called for everyones attention, and laid down where Dontre was sleeping when he was approached by officer Manney. Nate Hamilton asked those watching if they thought his brother was doing anything he deserved to die for.
Nate Hamilton and his brother Dameion sang a song they wrote together days after Dontre’s death. The celebration of Dontre’s life included hours of uplifting entertainment, including song, spoken word, and dance.
In a powerful moment, blue balloons were passed out, and a bell was slowly tolled 14 times for each of the bullets that struck Dontre.
After 14 rings of the bell, those present released their balloons into the skies above Red Arrow Park.
As night set in, candles were passed out. Dontre’s mother, Maria Hamilton, thanked everyone for their support through thick tears.
The crowd wears somber faces while listening to Maria Hamilton’s words.
A banner bearing Dontre’s name was held by members of his family. Throughout the day the banner had been signed by many of those in attendance.
Vigil goers, including Dontre’s father, placed their candles at the growing memorial for Dontre as they left the park.
The evening march made its way out of Red Arrow Park and into the streets.
The lead banners of the march made their way across the street towards City Hall.
Led by Nate Hamilton, the march went around City Hall, where the Coalition has repeatedly engaged city leaders on issues affecting underserved residents.
As the march returned to Red Arrow Park, the Overpass Light Brigade beamed INDICT THE SYSTEM on City Hall.
Marchers looked up at the projection.
The light brigade alternated between two different projections (photo credit: Emilio De Torre).
Dontre Hamilton’s mother, Maria, gazes up at the projected message.
How many more mothers must face what Maria Hamilton has endured? Mothers for Justice is organizing a Mother’s Day action in Washington DC. Please join if you can, or donate for the trip here.
Mothers for Justice will be in Washington DC on Mother’s Day weekend to demand action on vigilante and police violence.
All photos (unless denoted) were taken by Joe Brusky of Overpass Light Brigade. Click here to view more photos from the day.