The mother and brother of a man who was shot and killed in a confrontation with a police officer in Milwaukee will soon travel to Bowling Green to speak at a screening of a documentary about the impact his death had on the community.
“The Blood is at the Doorstep,” a documentary about the 2014 death of Dontre Hamilton, an unarmed black man who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and the effect it has had on his family and the Milwaukee area, will be shown at the Capitol Arts Center as part of the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers.
Maria Hamilton, Dontre Hamilton’s mother, said the film’s director, Erik Ljung, spent a great deal of time with the family as they sought justice for his death.
“I think during that time, Erik, the director, was sort of a family member. Church and everything, he was there,” she said.
Maria Hamilton said the film sheds light on her son, adding that she and Ljung were dissatisfied with how Hamilton and his schizophrenia were depicted in the media.
“He said he was concerned because he was a filmmaker and he hadn’t heard anything about it except what the media put out based on the police conference,” she said.
The screening begins at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Capitol and includes a pre-show performance by gospel group Essence in Harmony. The screening is free and includes a discussion afterward.
Ernie Small, a member of the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center’s board of directors, said “The Blood is at the Doorstep” is one of six documentaries being screened at the Capitol as part of the 2018-19 Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers.
“It certainly teaches on issues that affect African-Americans in our area,” he said.
Since her son’s death in April 2014, Maria Hamilton has been a part of protests and discussions with Milwaukee’s mayor and police chief, and has provided support for families of people killed in similar confrontations.
“As time went on, Eric Garner died, Sandra Bland died, Michael Brown died,” she said. “We found out this wasn’t an isolated incident and these people wanted our thoughts and our feelings on how to go forward.”
Christopher Massey, the officer who fired his weapon 14 times during his confrontation with Dontre Hamilton, was fired from the Milwaukee Police Department and the department started using body cameras after Dontre Hamilton’s death, but Maria Hamilton said she is still looking for justice.
She said she’s particularly concerned about police officers avoiding criminal prosecution after killing unarmed civilians.
“It’s a broken system,” she said.
Maria Hamilton said she hopes “The Blood is at the Doorstep” leads to more awareness and political action among those who see it.
“I want them to come in with an open mind and after they see the film, I want them to be an active part in the governance of their communities, helping others that don’t have the support we had,” she said.