Milwaukee mayor defends violence prevention pick amid opposition

A Milwaukee domestic violence official said he's quitting after Alderman Ashanti Hamilton was tapped to lead the Office of Violence Prevention (OVP). 

Jermaine Reed said Hamilton's 2009 guilty plea to a felony child abuse charge makes him a terrible choice. Mayor Cavalier Johnson said Hamilton has made positive influence in Milwaukee and is standing behind his pick.

"I thought it was reckless, I thought it was careless," said Reed.

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Reed is resigning from the city's Commission on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. The move follows Johnson's appointment of Hamilton to leave the OVP.

"I knew the work I do on the personal and professional side the values did not align. I knew I had to step down," Reed said.

Mayor Cavalier Johnson and Ashanti Hamilton

In 2009, prosecutors accused Hamilton of hitting his then 6-year-old daughter with a plastic hanger, leaving marks on her body. Hamilton addressed his past on Monday, saying he has grown from his troubles 14 years ago.

"This is a reality I had to go through, a learning experience that I had to grow through. And I think we bring our life experiences to every position that we take," he said Monday. "I brought that experience to my representation in the first aldermanic district, I brought that growth to understanding how to help families, and I’ll bring that to this position."

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Johnson said Hamilton has a track record of making positive impacts in Milwaukee.

"I don’t have any intention to change my appointment of Ashanti Hamilton," Johnson said.

"Folks pay their debt to society, and they ought to be able to come back and have opportunities. The same is true here. That’s what I believe and that’s why I’m going to continue to support Ashanti to take on this role."

Reed continues to question the mayor's decision.

"It was a great move for the both of them but at the heart of it, the core of it child safety, child well-being was not a part of the equation," said Reed.

Monday, Hamilton said he has supported violence interruption programs in his district; he said is also focused on mentorship. Hamilton did not respond to FOX6's request for an interview Wednesday.