The one-year anniversary of the shooting of Dontre Hamilton in Red Arrow Park is this Thursday, April 30, 2015.
[Post by Rev. Elaine Peresluha, Interim Senior Minister, First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee ]
Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson, Missouri, on Aug 9, 2014. Since that death, law enforcement officials in other cities have killed at least six more young black men. Two weeks ago, Baltimore’s Freddie Gray died from injuries he suffered while being arrested; none of the arresting officers have been fired, arrested, or prosecuted.
There is a pattern of unaccountability and lack of response on the pertinent issues from prosecutors and law enforcement officials in most of these deaths. In Milwaukee, I am grateful that Christopher Manning, the officer responsible for Dontre Hamilton’s death, has not been reinstated. This is a beginning, and more action is needed – here and in all of our cities.
There were over 10,000 demonstrators in Baltimore – most of them peaceful, asking for answers, leadership, oversight, and objectivity in investigating Freddie Gray’s death. Yet the media portrayals of the riots and damage focused on a mere 1% of the demonstrators, reinforcing unhelpful racial stereotypes, sensationalizing the violence rather than the need for answers and a process to initiate systemic change. We need to address the root causes of violence, incarceration, unemployment, and economic disparities that disproportionally affect African American communities.
The current public awareness of the deaths of young black men opens an opportunity for a nationwide wake-up call to address the deep-seated dynamics of racism in our nation.
Black Lives Matter. Please come out to Red Arrow Park on Thursday (April 30) at 5:30 PM to remember Dontre Hamilton. Become aware of the other opportunities in Milwaukee to join with people trying to change the historic perpetuation of segregation in this city.
Milwaukee has so much to offer. We can be a catalyst for change, a model for other cities in creating the opportunity to celebrate and appreciate the gifts of all cultures.
* * *
Rev. Elaine Beth Peresluha is Interim Senior Minister at First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee, a home for spiritual community, social justice, respectful conversation, and intellectual freedom, active in Milwaukee for nearly 175 years. Unitarian Universalism is an inclusive denomination; its core principles include recognition of the worth and dignity of every person; respect for the interdependent web of existence; and the goal of world peace, liberty and justice.