MILWAUKEE – Seven years ago today, a Milwaukee Police Department officer shot and killed Dontre Hamilton, who had been sleeping on a bench in Red Arrow Park. The tragedy affected the entire Milwaukee community. To honor Hamilton’s life, Milwaukee County Supervisor Sequanna Taylor will introduce a resolution appropriating funds towards the Dontre Hamilton Memorial Bench, which would be placed in Red Arrow Park.
“Dontre Hamilton should still be with us today,” said Supervisor Taylor. “His story is just one of many examples of Black people taken from us too soon due to police violence. This memorial would serve as a reminder that Dontre had been minding his own business, sleeping on a park bench, when he was assaulted and killed by a police officer.”
Every year on April 30, known as “Dontre Day” since 2018, the community comes together for a vigil in Red Arrow Park. It is an opportunity to spread love, respect, and unity. Many in attendance take the time to remember Hamilton for who he was, a man devoted to his family and of impeccable character. This year, the vigil will include healing circles for the family.
“Memorializing Dontre Hamilton in Red Arrow Park would be a reminder of the work needed to achieve racial equity and public health in Milwaukee,” said Chairwoman Marcelia Nicholson, whose County supervisory district includes Red Arrow Park.
After Hamilton’s death, his brother Nate Hamilton cofounded the Coalition for Justice, an organization that aims to bring awareness to injustices happening in Milwaukee. Dontre’s mother also founded Mother’s for Justice United, which unites mothers who have lost children to state and vigilante violence. The Hamilton family has continuously shown love and support to and advocated for others who have lost family members to violence.
“It’s been seven years since the death of Dontre Hamilton, which feels like yesterday to our family,” said Nate Hamilton. “We’ve committed ourselves to justice not only for him, but all those who have fell victim to violence at the hands of those sworn to protect us. Continuing to empower community and inspire change is our goal.”
The Dontre Hamilton Memorial Bench will also provide an opportunity to bring attention to mental health awareness. Hamilton was one of 1.5 million Americans and 20 million people worldwide diagnosed with Schizophrenia.