Activists, family members and others outraged by the death in police custody last year of Derek Williams marched and held a rally in Milwaukee on Wednesday afternoon, gathering at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. statue north of downtown and then walking toward the Police Administration building.
“This march is part of a larger, broader strategy to really kind of change the way business is done in the African-American community . . . and in particular around police relations,” said Jayme Montgomery Baker, who helped organize the event. She said Williams’ family wants to see those responsible for his death brought to trial. They’re also seeking an independent federal investigation, and reforms within the Milwaukee Police Department
The 22-year-old Williams died in the back of a police squad car, after calling for help, because he was having trouble breathing. The medical examiner’s office originally determined his death was due to natural causes, until recently when a staffer reviewed the police dash cam video which showed Williams struggling and calling for help. Upon seeing the footage, the medical examiner’s office changed the ruling to “homicide.”
Some participants in Wednesday’s rally demanded that Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn resign. On Tuesday, Milwaukee County’s chief judge named a special prosecutor to review the incident, and consider whether anyone should be charged.