Psalm 30 #DontreDay

How long, O Lord? How long?

The common refrain of God’s people in the midst of suffering? How long will the oppressors win? How long will the enemies trample us? How long will our children be slaughtered? When will thy kingdom come? When will thy will be done?

2 years after the death of Dontre Hamilton, the city of Milwaukee and the nation continue to cry out: How long? How long until justice prevails in the land? How long until police and communities are no longer at odds with one another? How long until we stop hearing about the shooting death of an unarmed person of color? How long?

Perhaps this anniversary should be a day of lamentations. A day of wailing and grief.

Perhaps this day should be a day of righteous anger, of occupying public space and shutting down “business as usual.”

These reactions are justified. Anger and grief, rage and disbelief.

And yet the family of Dontre Hamilton cling instead to Psalm 30.

“ Then you changed my despair into a dance—
you stripped me of my death shroud
and clothed me with joy.” Psalm 30:11

There are still days of grief and rage. There will still be days of action and protest. But in the midst of death is life. The Milwaukee Police department decided 2 years ago that April 30th would be a day of violence. A day of injustice. A day of profiling. A day of death.

But with hope of a God who delivers full and complete justice, the Hamiltons will not allow the forces of death or powers and principalities to define this day. With a faith in God, this day of tragedy for the family has been given to the community in celebration.

Changing the meaning of April 30th to become a celebration of life, of One Love, of a Milwaukee that does better – this is radical and subversive. More than protesting Christmas tree ceremonies and shutting down freeways THIS is the thing that should terrify those against the movement. Because unity is more powerful than division. Dancing is more enticing than mourning. Love is stronger than hate.

When love, unity, and celebration define us… we win!




It was never just about Dontre

It was never just about Dontre.

After the killing for Dontre Hamilton in the shadows of city hall, a movement emerged. The Coaltion for Justice led matches in the streets. The governor feared the people and activated the national guard. The sheriff got to shuck and jive for Fox News. At times there have been arrests. Nate Hamilton, Dontre’s brother, cried out “Activate the power of the people” and Maria Hamilton, mother of Dontre, has become a force on a national level.

We’ve rallied around “I can’t sleep.” We demanded the name of the officer be released. We got that. We demanded better training for crisis intervention and mental health training. We got that. When the local DA failed to prosecute, we demanded a federal investigation. We got that.

2 years after the fateful moment in Red Arrow Park, the citizens have seen progress in our struggle for justice.

But this was never just about Dontre.

If it was only focused on Dontre Hamilton, folks could say the movement failed. Chris Manney lost his job, but the PTSD from killing an innocent man allows him to collect disability checks. The local DA didn’t press charges. The DOJ didn’t press charges. We still don’t have a patterns and practice investigation of MPD. Chief Flynn still has his job.

Dontre in life promoted One Love. Dontre in death demands justice.

If I have learned anything from the amazing leaders locally and nationally it is that Black Lives Matter is not about surviving. It is about Black Lives Thriving.

This is why the stories of Derek Williams, Tony Robinson, Brandon Johnson, the treatment of Darius Simmons’ mother, and Corey Stingley are repeated. This isn’t one situation. It is systematic.

This is not just about Dontre because the need to not just “reform.” It is not a case of a “few bad apples.” The need to overhaul the Milwaukee Police stems from the days of Frank Jude. And longer.

This is not just about Dontre, because cutting funding for mental health services hurts our whole city.

Black Lives can’t thrive without economic justice so the Coaltion for Justice aligns with the fight for 15.

The inhuman treatment of migrants through ICE raids and Milwaukee Sheriff’s actions reveal the fault of putting police at odds with whole groups of citizens.

This is not just about seeing Christopher Manney in jail. That is one objective, but it isn’t the end game.

A city where black lives thrive has always been the goal. Policing, economics, education, mental health services, environmental justice, leadership that serves the citizens: all of these are issues tied up in the struggle for Milwaukee’s liberation.

Dontre inspires this work. Dontre demands this work. The Hamilton family activates this. The city of Milwaukee deserves this.