By Thomas Mitchell
Hamilton’s family vows to fight on until justice is served
Responding to Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm’s decision Monday not to criminally charge fired Milwaukee Police Officer Christopher Manney in the death of his brother, Dontre Hamilton, Nate Hamilton urged the community to “activate” the power it has in the pursuit of justice.
“Today we activate the power of the people,” Hamilton said on the steps of the federal courthouse on Wisconsin Avenue with family members, their attorneys and supporters a few hours after Chisholm announced his decision.
“We will not be deactivated until justice is consistent.”
Also present at the news conference (some of whom spoke) were representatives of the Milwaukee NAACP, ACLU of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Urban League, MICAH, Milwaukee Matters, the Sherman Park community Association, the Coalition for Justice, the African American Roundtable, and other groups.
Visibly angry about Chisholm’s decision, in which the D.A. stated in his report—released Monday—that Manney was “justified” in firing (14 times) at his brother who (according to the report) “was attacking him (Manney) with a deadly weapon (baton), Hamilton believed Manney looked at his brother and “killed him with hate and intent.
“Now he, (Manney) has the mental problem,” Hamilton told the gathering. “He probably had a mental problem. The system has a mental problem.”
Between chants of encouragement from the crowd, many of whom have been protesting with the Hamilton family since Dontre’s death last April in Red Arrow Park—located across the street from City Hall—Hamilton told them the family will turn its anger into positive energy in order to “take down the beast (the current system). All people…let’s stand together!”
“My family has cried too long. As a people we’ve cried too long. We’re not going to cover-up injustice with our tears,” Hamilton said. “My family loved my brother. This is a fight. We’re going to endure, stay strong; we won’t waiver.”
Hamilton then urged the community as a whole to get involved in the struggle for justice for his brother and others—both locally and nationally—who have been the victims of police violence.
“We won’t turn our backs no more. That’s what they want. We must wake people up (to the fact) that injustice does exist. My family is no longer crying. Don’t we deserve to be treated right?”
The attorneys for the Hamilton family, called on the Federal government to investigate the shooting to see Hamilton’s civil rights were violated.
In a statement he read starting the news conference, Jonathan Safran, one of the attorneys for the Hamilton family, said they have been in contact with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, in Milwaukee.
“We have formally requested that they (the aforementioned U.S. Attorney’s office for Wisconsin) communicate with the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Criminal Section, to immediately commence a federal investigation into this matter, with the belief that federal law criminal civil rights charges are warranted in this case.”
Speaking to the gathering outside the courthouse, James Hall, president of the Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP, also called for the U.S. attorny for the Eatern District of Wisconsin (who is James Santelle) and the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct a separate, thorough and independent review and investigation into Hamilton’s death.
“As with the matters involving Frank Jude locally and Rodney King in Los Angeles (both were savagely beaten by members of police departments in the respective cities), we know there are precedents for federal review reaching a decision to charge where the D.A. has not issued charges.
“We understand that each situation is different, but we implore Mr. Santelle to approach such review with an open mind and with full consideration of the particular circumstances of this case.”
On late afternoon Monday, the U.S. Attorney’s office announced they will review the Hamilton case to determine if civil rights were violated.
Responding to calls by some city government and law enforcement officials for calm and reason, Hamilton said the people have been calm. “When will we stand-up and activate the power of the people? Hamilton asked.
Hamilton urged the gathering—and the community—to push the clouds of apathy away and shine the light on truth. “Expose truth.”
After Hamilton’s remarks and closing remarks of the family’s attorneys, the Hamilton family proceeded to march west down Wisconsin Avenue chanting for justice, chanting against the system, and chanting for the indictment and conviction Manney.
During his news conference exonerating Manney of any wrong doing, Chisholm was asked if the firing of 14 shots at Hamilton was an excessive and warranted further scrutiny as a determining factor for charges.
Chisholm, who sought and weighted the advice from local and nation use-of-force experts in making his decision reportedly responded that there is no standard requiring officers to stop firing their weapon and re-assess the situation after x amount of rounds.
However the Hamilton’s attorney noted that the autopsy report described abrasions and contusions on Hamilton’s head and neck.
Safran said part of the report raises questions as to the ability of some to resist if there is unreasonable force addressed against them. “And that may have been what Dontre Hamilton was doing,” he said.
Chisholm also reportedly said his decision had nothing to do with the initial encounter between Hamilton, “right or wrong. That’s a decision that’s been made by the police department, that’s a decision that may very well be the subject of civil litigation.”
In October, Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn fired Manney for failing to follow proper procedures in dealing with mentally ill individuals. Hamilton had suffered from schizophrenia.
Information sources for parts of this article: fox6now.com and wisn.com