By Nyesha Stone
Usually, people tend to think of one thing: violence. If this is your first thought, then you’re not wrong, but it also means there’s an issue.
People know about the violence, but many people tend to look the other way, which is why a documentary was created to bring to light the things that happen in Milwaukee’s worst zip code: 53026.
Milwaukee 53206, “chronicles the lives of those living in the ZIP code that incarcerates the highest percentage of black men in America, up to 62%,” according to its website. The film follows three 53206 residents, in hopes of bringing awareness to how many Americans, specifically Black men, are affected by the jail and prison system.
The Milwaukee 53206 staff teamed up with The Salvation Army Citadel Worship & Community Center, 4129 W. Villard Avenue, to hold free showings of the film followed by paneled discussions at the Salvation Army.
“The most important thing is that we raise awareness of the Black male incarnation,” said Dennis Walton, one of the film’s directors. “And, that we identify it as a crisis,” but to do so people need to know what’s going on.
Walton himself has been incarnated, and he used this film, along with his community work, as a way to give back to the youth and to show them that there’s a way out.
Most of the people that played a part in making the film either know the 53206 area or were raised in it.
They know first-hand that the area, and many areas of Milwaukee, need attention.
Lieutenant Patricia Williams has been with the Salvation Army for over 10 years, but just recently came to Milwaukee a little under a year ago. Every day she works and encounters Black youth who come from broken homes, and she believes having the film at the Salvation Army is a no-brainer.
“This is a safe haven for those kids who have nowhere to go,” said Lt. Williams.
Since part of the Salvation Army’s mission, according to their site, is to meet human needs, it only made sense to host this film. This faith-based organization has been providing the Milwaukee community with shelter, food and many other items and resources for over 100 years.
“We felt it was important for us to be a presenter and host of the 53206 film,” said Faithe Colas, Assistant Divisional Director of Development of The Salvation Army of Greater Milwaukee.
Colas said the Salvation Army understand that incarceration and poverty go hand to hand, and with Milwaukee being filled with both, showing this film to the community will make a difference.
“There are a lot of factors that contribute to incarceration in men in 53026,” said Walton. “We want to intelligently talk about those things.”
Walton says although people know about these issues, Milwaukee has so many other issues, people tend to put incarnation of Black men to the side, but with this film, they’re bringing the issue to the forefront.
There will be three showings of the film: the first two for elementary and high schoolers and the last showing will be held at 6 p.m. and is open to the public.
After each show, there will be a paneled discussion that will include panelist Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton, District Attorney John Chisholm, Public Defender Charlie Roozen and Lewis Lee, formerly incarcerated and resident of 53206.
For more information visit the film’s site at https://www.milwaukee53206.com/