Red Arrow Park Dontre Hamilton memorial funds approved

Seven years after Dontre Hamilton was shot and killed by a Milwaukee police officer in Red Arrow Park, the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors authorized funds for a memorial on Thursday, May 20.

"This isn’t justice for the family – it’s the county honoring its word for what it should have done years ago," said Board Vice Chair Sequanna Taylor.

Supervisors voted to transfer $3,000 to install a memorial bench at Red Arrow Park for Hamilton. The resolution was adopted 17-1; Supervisor John Weishan cast the single opposing vote.

"I would gladly participate in any type of remembrance for Mr. Hamilton. I personally just do not think that the Red Arrow Park is the appropriate location," Weishan said. "That is – the reason it’s called Red Arrow Park is to remember the exploits of the 32nd Division."

A Starbucks employee called police because Hamilton was sleeping on a park bench. The officer who shot Hamilton 14 times, Christopher Manney, was never charged but was later fired from the force. Hamilton suffered from mental illness.

"It’s been a long time coming," Maria Hamilton, Dontre's mother, said.

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Hamilton's mother said Thursday's decision brings the family some closure. The memorial will include a plaque, highlighting Hamilton's impact on the community while stressing the importance of mental health.

"We have hundreds of thousands of mentally ill veterans in this city that’s not getting the care they need. I want that plaque for them as well," said Hamilton.

The bench should be installed sometime this summer. The parks department is looking at three possible locations to put it within Red Arrow Park, but a decision has not yet been made.

Text to be included on the Dontre Hamilton memorial plaque:

"Dontre Hamilton was a man given to us to inspire, motivate, encourage, strengthen, love, and so much more. Every day he continues to manifest within our lives, to keep us united and strong not only as a community but as a family, to uplift us to continue our fight towards justice. We also have used Dontre’s name to shed light on the difficulties we face around mental health issues. We can challenge Milwaukee to be better educated and informed on how to bring more consciousness in supporting those who deal with mental health."

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