24 hours from now, the commemoration for the one year anniversary of Dontre’s death will be done. The crowds will disperse – back to their homes in every neighborhood of this city and many of the suburbs; or to find some place to talk over with friends what they saw, what they bore witness to, what they participated in. The planners will have lingered at the site, or hauled a few more things to the cars, but by now on their way as well. The overtime shifts for the police officers will be done. The nervousness of city officials will ease for the night.
Milwaukee will continue on. Fans will stream out of the Bradley Center. Bars will serve their drinks. Things will go on.
But 24 hours from now a family that has given so much to this city will not have the commotion of a massive gathering, will not have the buzz of planning or the adrenaline of the moment. They will soon be back in their homes recognizing a year has come and gone. They have given so much to the city and yet the city can never give back the one thing they lack: A son. A brother. A friend.
If you know it or not, Milwaukee is a better city for you – for all of us – because of the Hamiltons. Police will be better trained because of them. Mothers that have lost children stand not alone, but together for comfort, strength and power. Old school activists have been energized by a movement that continues a legacy pushing for racial justice. New school activists are finding out that they have power. Black lives and black wages are tied together. Black and brown coalitions are stronger. Students – at colleges and high schools – are bringing the struggle for justice to campus. Business as usual – for Fire and Police Commissioners, for officers, for elected officials – is put on notice. In a segregated city, a multi-racial movement is being led by strong black voices. Corporations are being confronted specifically on issues of racial profiling. An officer was held to some account by losing his job. The federal government is examining his case.
This is because of the Hamilton family. This is the impact we have made collectively, but that they have led. I am blessed to know them. I am honored to follow them.
They have done this for me, for my children, for our city.
Because of this, tomorrow Milwaukee will not burn. It will not look like Baltimore or Ferguson. Tomorrow will be peaceful. Because tomorrow is about honoring the family. Tomorrow is about remembering Dontre.
Milwaukee is a long way from justice. A summer of direct action and disruption should be anticipated. There will be actions and the movement will continue to grow. Civil disobedience will come.
But 24 hours from now, where will you be? What will you be thinking? “I should have gone.” “I wish I was there.” “I’m still mad at them.” “We need to turn-up like they’re doing across the country.”
Or will you recognize a family in the midst of their own grief continues to give and give for the sake of One Love and a better Milwaukee? Will you recognize that the family that gives to you and to me without needing to be asked, has asked of you only one thing: show up.
24 hours from now, will you say, “I was there. i was part of something beautiful. I gave the greatest gift – to stand with a family that buried their kin to remind them they are not alone. They are never alone.”
Join us tomorrow night: https://www.facebook.com/events/634141083384210/