By Dylan Deprey
The rays of sun made for a clear day in Red Arrow Park, but surrounded by protestors stood “Ground Zero.” There was no mountain of rubble or throat-grasping dust. There was no physical damage done whatsoever. Instead stood the mothers and the families of Dontre Hamilton, Christopher Davis and Jay Anderson. The crowd of around 200 people shifted as more people walked up, each person representing another shooting victim.
Dontre Hamilton’s mother, Maria Hamilton grasped a megaphone. She narrated her painful story in the exact same park where former Milwaukee Police Officer Christopher Manney shot her son two years ago. She said that in the four months following her son’s death she never heard a word from the city of Milwaukee.
Christopher Davis’s mother, Doretha Lock’s story was almost synonymous with Hamilton’s. She said that she knew as much as she did Feb. 24th at 5:30 p.m. when she got the call that her son was shot by a Walworth County Police officer.
“Do you think anyone came to say, ‘I’m sorry for your grief? Any officials? My alderman? I’m calling you out,” Lock said.
She also addressed the mental trauma her family, including her other children, experienced following the shooting of her son.
“We all mourned, and then we go and to listen to the news and its like we are reliving it all over again and me as a mother reliving it through them,” Lock said.
Nate Hamilton, co-founder of the Coalition for Justice, stood by his mother. He said that symbolic ring of protestors encircling the families was meant to represent the protection for the mothers and families through their traumatic experience.
“We don’t want anymore mothers up here,” Hamilton said. “You don’t want to be in this circle, there is no justice in this circle.”
Milwaukee’s Coalition for Justice followed in suit with other cities around the country and marched for peace over the extremely violent week on Monday July 10. Both Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La. and Philandro Castile, in St. Paul, Minn. were shot by white police officers. In the same week during a peace protest, five Dallas police officers were shot and murdered by a military veteran Micah Johnson.
Hamilton said the rally was a needed space to create unity for people from all over Milwaukee to voice their opinion.
“It’s a fight for the American dream. It doesn’t inspire, it creates hurt and it doesn’t create equality,” Hamilton said. “That’s why we wanted to create this space.”
Desiree Brown came to the space in first to show solidarity toward the tragic deaths but also for the future of her two sons. Both are black teenagers.
“What ever happened to the days when I was a young girl and saw a police officer chase down the criminals and we would cheer for him? They’d run through the yards and chase them down. They had hand-to-hand combat or use their baton or tazer but now it seems like they just shoot to kill and ask questions later,” Brown said.
Brown said that her sons and their friends should not fear for police harassing them while sitting in the park. She added that police officers involved in shootings saying they thought their life was at stake was not an acceptable excuse for the murders.
She also said that police officers are more then just protection but instead supposed to be peace officers or social workers in a sense.
“They are supposed to de-escalate and use discretion, but not now its like discretion is a word is not fitted for a black person because your discretion is that all black people are dangerous and all criminals,” Brown said.