“It’s about memorializing Dontre:” The growing debate to honor Dontre Hamilton in Red Arrow Park

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- There's a growing movement to memorialize Dontre Hamilton in Red Arrow Park, the park where he was shot and killed by a Milwaukee police officer last April. But there is also growing opposition from local veterans who the park is named after.

They've marched and protested for months calling Red Arrow Park ground zero.

"Dontre deserves justice he deserves to be heard," said Nate Hamilton, Dontre Hamilton's brother.

Dontre Hamilton was shot and killed last April by former Milwaukee Police Officer, Christopher Manney, just before Christmas. An independent investigation concluded Manney would not face criminal charges for the shooting.

"We have to have something for people who died here in our country who serve their city, who supported their city and that was Dontre," said Nate Hamilton.

Milwaukee County Supervisor, Kahlif Rainey, has started an effort to create a memorial in Red Arrow Park, honoring Hamilton.

"It's about memorializing Dontre, it's about bringing attention to mental health, it's about recognizing this was the location of many people coming together at one time in pursuit of a common goal which was justice," said Rainey.

But some veterans have begun to take issue with the idea, including Hilton Schmidt.

"Yeah, I wouldn't like that at all, that's for sure. I don't think it's possible that they should even think of doing it," said Hilton Schmidt, veteran.

The park is named for the legendary 32nd division of the Army National Guard that fought in both world wars. Schmidt was part of the division.

"That was a good unit. Well trained, we did a lot of training now," said Schmidt.

He says changing the park's name, or even sharing it, would diminish what it stands for.

"It's such a 1 thing that happened compared to what that park stands for, for 100,000 probably soldiers that died in the last 100 years in the 2 wars," said Schmidt.

FOX6 News spoke with Neil Sorenson who is the past president of the 32nd Red Arrow Veteran Association. He says he's voiced his concerns with Supervisor Rainey and will continue to have conversations with him until both sides are happy with a resolution.

Supervisor Rainey doesn't expect a proposal to be in front of the County Board until next session.

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7 comments

  • 2ECOND

    “We have to have something for people who died here in our country who serve their city, who supported their city and that was Dontre,” said Nate Hamilton.
    fine, we’ll put up a remembrance sign on the front of the MMSD building.

    • 2ECOND

      also, WHAT did Dontre do for the country or even for the city? he was sleeping on a fricken park bench! to bad supervisor Rainey didn’t come forward to help ol’ Dontre before this…

  • S J Reshel

    I’m sorry, I know it was a tragedy, but where does it end. Do we name every Park, Street and God knows what after everybody who was tragically shot by Police? I don’t think so. The park is named for Veterans, to take away that name would be a disservice to Veterans and the City alike. We might as well just get rid of the Park it’s self then….

  • you wish

    Unbelieveable. This county board is out of control! This park is about honoring veterans who have served this country honorably, not about mentally challenged who have attacked police!

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