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Verona Swanigan speaks to reporters in front of the Federal Courthouse in August 2014. (Photo by Mike De Sisti, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
Verona Swanigan, a Democratic candidate for Milwaukee County district attorney, has received personal support from right-wing political activists and has appealed to Republican voters in her bid to unseat current District Attorney John Chisholm, also a Democrat.
A number of speculative pieces have been written by local media tying Swanigan to Eric O’Keefe, director of the Wisconsin Club for Growth, and Craig Peterson, a local political operative with well-documented ties to O’Keefe and a growing interest in local politics. O’Keefe and his organization are key players in an ongoing battle over a secret John Doe investigation launched by Chisholm in 2012.
Milwaukee Police said six protesters were arrested Thursday night at a rally for Dontre Hamilton in Red Arrow Park for using voice amplification equipment. Nate Hamilton, Dontre’s brother, Jennifer Epps-Addison, executive director of Wisconsin Jobs Now, and two individuals who were targeted by police late last year for organizing protests in Milwaukee’s central city were among the arrestees. Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said the protesters did not have a permit.
Early Monday morning, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm announced, in a press conference, that his office will not bring any charges against ex-Milwaukee Police Officer Christopher Manney in the April shooting death of Dontre Hamilton. Chisholm also released the official report — an independent investigation months in the making — on the shooting that occurred in Milwaukee’s Red Arrow Park downtown.
According to accounts, Hamilton, a 31-year-old black man with a history of mental illness, was sleeping on a park bench — after already having been deemed no danger by two officers who responded to a call — when Manney approached and began a patdown of Hamilton. Manney was fired in October after Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn determined that Manney’s conduct — the unprovoked patdown, in particular — violated department procedures. A scuffle ensued and, in the process, Hamilton relieved Manney of his baton, striking the officer in the neck. The extent of both Manney’s and Hamilton’s injuries stemming from the initial confrontation continue to remain in question. Multiple eyewitness accounts leave no question what ensued: Manney drew his weapon and fired “multiple shots” — 14, in all — killing Hamilton. According to the autopsy results, half of the bullets that hit Hamilton came from a downward direction and one hit him in the back.
Tuesday, a crowd of about 100 people gathered at Red Arrow Park downtown to remember Dontre Hamilton, the 31-year-old man who was shot 14 times by a Milwaukee police officer in April. Hamilton’s family was also in attendance.
The rally, held on the five-month anniversary of Hamilton’s death, was organized as a remembrance as well as a call-to-action for city and state officials, who have failed to make a charging decision regarding the case or to release a report by the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation, which was completed more than a month ago, while awaiting the results of another, independent, investigation.