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'They want the general public to hear them cry': Dontre Hamilton's mom speaks out amid protests

Posted at 2:25 PM, Jun 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-03 19:15:58-04

MILWAUKEE — The family of Dontre Hamilton, a 31-year-old black man who was shot and killed by a Milwaukee police officer at Red Arrow Park on April 30, 2014, is re-living that trauma as they follow the news of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

"We protested for 180 days," said Maria Hamilton, Dontre's mom.

After six days of "Justice for George Floyd" protests in Milwaukee, Hamilton fears protesters have been demonized.

"They’re marching and fighting in these streets since George Floyd died because they want to live. Not because they want to be beaten, not because they want to sprayed with gas. They actually want the general public to hear them cry," said Hamilton.

As Maria and her son Nate send their condolences to the Floyd family, they are once again demanding justice. Not only for Dontre Hamilton and George Floyd, but for every person unjustly killed by police officers.

She said she believes that includes Joel Acevedo, who died after prosecutors said he was attacked by off-duty Milwaukee Police Officer Michael Mattioli back in April.

Mattioli is charged with reckless homicide but, has not been fired from Milwaukee's police force, which has also led to a protest in Milwaukee.

Milwaukee's mayor has called for Mattioli to be fired, and the Milwaukee police chief said that decision is completely up to the Fire and Police Commission.

"We’re asking them, once again to do the right thing. Bring murder in the charge of this officer that killed Joel and also prosecute the other two people who idly stood by and held him down while he was being struck," said Hamilton.

As for protesting, Hamilton said protesters cannot be demonized. She worries about the image protesters have been given by the media.

"Us protesting and rallying everyday, it's telling the government that we are no longer going to tolerate being abused," said Hamilton.

Hamilton said it's important to understand that there are some who've enticed protesters, leading to illegal marching on interstates and, in some cases, violence and looting.

"We ask those people to stay in your lane, leave these children alone, allow them to be the voice that they want to be and take your agenda and go home with it," said Hamilton.

And, to the policymakers, legislators and police leaders watching protesters march nationwide, Maria said it's time to take note:

"We the people will not stand by and be silent for the politicians anymore. Either do your job or relieve your seat."

It's another call for justice and reform from a mom whose pain fuels a passion for equality and empathy.

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