By Ralph Hollmon
President & CEO Milwaukee Urban League
On Saturday, December 13, 2014, I attended a peaceful rally in Red Arrow Park to support a call for justice in the death of Dontre Hamilton and to show support for the Hamilton family.
I also joined with others to urge District Attorney John Chisholm to make his decision regarding police officer Christopher Manney as soon as possible.
It was stressed that we all want a thorough review of the facts in this case, but it has been 7 months since Mr. Hamilton’s death and the longer the decision is delayed – it leads to speculation and more distrust of our criminal justice system.
Saturday’s rally in Red Arrow Park also coincided with a National Day of rallies in Washington, D.C. and other cities across the U.S. to show support for the families of other unarmed black males who have been killed in 2014 after encounters with police: Tamir Rice, Cleveland, OH; Akai Gurley, Brooklyn, NY; Michael Brown, Ferguson, MO; and Eric Garner, Staten Island, NY. The tragic unacceptable deaths of unarmed Black males by police officers must stop and we need to do everything possible to make that happen.
Currently, there are parts of our community that do not trust the police because they feel there is, and has been, a pattern of excessive force against Black males.
It is crucial that we work to restore trust because we need each other.
The community needs the police to protect and serve and the police need the community to help prevent and solve crimes.
However, trust cannot be restored if we continue to have Black males killed under questionable circumstances by police officers.
Trust cannot be achieved without a change in the way Black males are perceived and treated.
Change starts with training and a number of things can and should be done in regards to training, especially as it relates to handling citizens with mental health issues.
But, we need to begin by having all police officers show restraint and good judgment when dealing with our community.
If we can get police officers to show restraint and good judgment in conjunction with their training, this will be a tremendous step towards stopping unnecessary deaths, rebuilding trust and improving police community relations.