It was a violent Memorial Day weekend in Milwaukee. Shootings killed four people, and injured another 15, in separate incidents on the north side. Community leaders gathered Tuesday to call for an end to the violence now, before summer arrives.
About 40 neighbors and community activists gathered at the corner of Teutonia and Hampton, the scene of one of the weekend shootings.
"This weekend, somebody lost a sister, somebody lost a daughter, somebody lost a father and somebody lost a son.”
Ald. Milele Coggs begged for the bloodshed to end. “Every time tragedy hits, I step back and I think what could have prevented this, who could have prevented this? And instead of pointing fingers, I think of solutions,” she said.
Coggs said, some of the solutions, lie in the hands of the people who live in the neighborhoods. She encouraged parents to communicate with their children.
“I can’t legislate what goes on in your home, but it’s your daughter you can have a conversation with. I can’t tell you what to do on your block, but that’s your son you can sit down and talk with,” Coggs said.
Neighbors also have to talk with neighbors, Gregory Adams said. The retired teacher said he’s fortunate to live in an area where people have a rapport. ‘“On our block, people borrow sugar and eggs for a cake they’re baking.”
And, Adams said, it’s important to reach out to young people. “When groups of boys walk past, just say 'Hey man, how y’all doing. Be safe out here.' Just say something and that way, they know next time, oh that’s the guy who thinks about us, cares about us, at least say hi."
Adams said, in some cases, the young men he greets, later come up to him and report unusual activity in the neighborhood.
State Sen. Lena Taylor said government also has a role to play. She promised to push for more resources from Madison.
“I will be fighting for us to do different in corrections, for us to do different in the administration and procurement for minority businesses so that we can have different economic outcomes in this community because the only thing that’s going to bring us difference in this community is for people to have access to businesses and jobs. That’s the answer,” Taylor said.
While Taylor hopes to secure more money from the state, Milwaukee Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton wants to commit more city resources to creating opportunities for young people. Hamilton touted the recent startup of the Promise Zone initiative; it directs extra money to neighborhoods that violence has hit hard.
“And we have cobbled together some resources to help with community organizing, youth employment, youth engagement in those neighborhoods and it’s just kicking off. Many of the neighbors and corporate partners that we have are hiring youth from the neighborhood,” he said.
Hamilton said results take time, but he insists that the spirit of the neighborhood will change once people realize that investment is a high priority.