Local man putting up billboards to raise awareness to Derek Williams' death

CREATED Oct 5, 2012 - UPDATED: Oct 5, 2012

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  • Video by wtmj.com


MILWAUKEE- The fight for justice for a man who died in Milwaukee police custody last year rises to new heights.

Billboards are going up to raise awareness about the death of Derek Williams.

The billboards are being paid for by a family that does not know the Williams family, but they say they share the family's pain.

Michael Bell is paying for the 17 billboards around the city.

His fight with law enforcement started in 2004 when his 21-year-old son was shot in the head by a Kenosha police officer while in handcuffs.

"Our family has been fighting for change in the law enforcement review process," says Bell.  "Within 48 hours the Kenosha Police Department cleared itself of any wrongdoing."
In 2010, Bell's father settled out of court with the city for more than $1 million.  The settlement money is paying for the billboards.

"This is not just an African-American problem.  My own son with blond hair and blue eyes was shot and killed by a police officer," says Bell.  "It's important you and I and our families call on (Milwaukee Police) Chief Flynn to stand up and speak to legislatures to change the process."

The billboards have different messages including one which shares Williams' last words "Sir, I can't breathe."  They are designed to grab your attention to a call for change.

"He (Bell) knows our pain and that's the statement we're trying to make," says Derek Williams' aunt Maeleen Jordan.

The electronic billboards will be interactive.  Starting next week people can send a message to the Williams family through Facebook, and those messages could appear on a billboard.