By Dylan Deprey
As the clock struck 6 p.m., 30 metal chairs in the Havenwoods Campus of the All Peoples Church basement were slowly filled for the Coalition for Justice’s Mass meeting.
Nate Hamilton, brother of the late Dontre Hamilton, Markesha Chambers and Damien Perks sat at the head of the interconnected tables and conducted the meeting.
The focus of the meeting was based solely around the Department of Justice (DOJ) open meeting on January 21, which will allow the community to express their complaints involving the Milwaukee Police Department.
According to Hamilton, the Coalition’s main objective is to organize a way to pack as many members of the community as possible in Centennial Hall.
“We need to show up very dramatic, blunt and semi aggressive,” he said.
This is the first step in a six-month investigation under the Collaborative Form Initiative.
The initiative was created by the DOJ Office of Community Oriented Policing Services to uncover problems in police agencies. They then attempt to help increase trust between the community and police department.
After the six-month review, the department is given optional recommendations that can be established over a span of a year to eighteen months.
“We need to dissect the police department from the inside out,” Hamilton said.
According to Jarrett English, member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), it is crucial for the youth and young adults of Milwaukee to show up to the meeting.
“They treat 15 and16 year-olds as adults,” Hamilton said. “We haven’t really gotten a push from the youth.”
The Coalition made it a priority to connect with youth organizations in the community.
The meeting also addressed that some individuals wouldn’t contribute their complaints at the forum. Reasons include embarrassment of the situations involving the police like cavity searches and also fear of prior legal records.
The Coalition provided the concept of an anonymous campaign that would allow people to present their stories without their names attached to it.
“I can’t stress how many people need to be there to tell their story. The DOJ will look over all information we give them,” English said.
The final task the Coalition addressed was having transportation to Centennial Hall.
According to Hamilton, Chief Flynn set up the meeting downtown, but he feels it should have been held in the fifth district, where a substantial number of reports police misconduct occurred.
“We need to bring the 53206 to downtown,” Hamilton said.
The Coalition made it clear that anybody going to the meeting should not be driving alone.
The Coalition would even provide gas cards for people who can’t afford to make the drive to Centennial Hall.
“We don’t want the DOJ to fly from Washington, D.C. and nobody is there to express their problems,” Chambers said.
Hamilton finished off the discussion by laying out why the Coalition of Justice needs to be present at the forum.
According to Hamilton, the Coalition is a transparent organization without a hidden agenda.
It is a group of concerned people who shouldn’t be afraid to voice their opinions.
“I want the DOJ to leave this meeting with something they’ve never felt before from any other city. I want them to feel our passion,” Hamilton said.