Dontre Day proclaimed in Milwaukee as a celebration of life in the memory of a loss
Dontre Hamilton dіеd on April 30, 2014 at the age of 31 in Red Arrow Park along Water Street, after a phone call was made to pоlіcе by a Starbucks Coffee employee.
The circumstances of his dеаth have been reported by the new media over the past four years, and are the subject of an award winning documentary The Blood is at the Doorstep by filmmaker Erik Ljung.
The press coverage has been as slanted over issues of race as the public reaction was to the dеаth of Hamilton. In a hyper-segregated city like Milwaukee, where citizens tend to form opinions from misperceptions of stereotypes instead of personal connections to diverse communities, it is hard to find words that are not racially bias to describe the incident.
Hamilton was shоt 14 times by a former Milwaukee Pоlice Officer, in a confrontation that could have been avoided and should not have been fatal. It was regarded as both a violation of his Constitutional and Civil Rights.
Dontre Day 2018 was held on May 5 at the site of his dеаth at Red Arrow Park. A group has gathered at the same spot each year to hold vigils in Hamilton’s memory. Mayor Tom Barrett issued a City of Milwaukee proclamation declaring April 30, 2018 to commemorate the life of Dontre Hamilton, recognizing the importance that the day of remembrance had become, and how it continued to bring the community together.
The acknowledgement that “Dontre Hamilton devoted his life to others, which was demonstrated in his commitment to his family and his eagerness to help those in need” and as “a loving father, proud brother, devoted son, who will be remembered by all for his impeccable character and devotion toward his family, friends, and community,” the proclamation offers the Hamilton family and the community an opportunity to move beyond the tragedy and begin to heal.
Organizers of Dontre Day said that “this day has been used to strengthen the community by coming together in dance, music, poetry, love, and respect. Using this Dontre Day as a day to encourage change and inspire lives in a time where justice is unnoticeable. We strive to awaken the community to the work that is being done and needs to be continued in order to liberate black lives.”
In the time since Dontre’s dеаth, his brother Nate Hamilton co-founded the advocacy group Coalition for Justice, and his mother Maria Hamilton founded Mothers for Justice United. The Milwaukee Independent spoke with both during Dontre Day and their interviews are companion features. This photo essay shares highlights from the downtown event.