By Ariele Vaccaro
On April 17, a group of men, women and children stood close together in front of the parking lot outside Big Load Coin Laundry.
They gathered on the corner of 3rd and Keefe Streets to make a statement: the violence needs to end.
The new organization called “Black Love Matters” formed party in a response to heavy death tolls in Milwaukee neighborhoods.
A feeling of grief hung heavy in the spring evening air. When the group met for its first community task force meeting, three people had already died by gunshot that week.
A double homicide that past Sunday had resulted in the death of a man, a teenager, and, later, their killer — all after a car accident that took the life of a two-year-old.
Later in the week, a bystanding woman would be fatally shot when two couples used guns to settle a dispute.
Shawn Muhammad helped to organize Black Love Matters first meeting. He introduced the organizations plans: two touch 20 hoods in 20 weeks.
“The healing of our community takes priority over whatever differences that we may have,” said Muhammad.
Alderpersons Milele Coggs and Ashanti Hamilton spoke at the meeting.
Coggs emphasized an urgency for communities to change their conditions from within. “we do recognize that the greatest power is within us — those who live on these blocks, those who are in these neighborhoods, and those who know those who are not only the victims, but the assailants.”
She brought up what appeared to be the meeting’s general consensus.
“We can debate about legislation, all that stuff, all day, but one thing that no one can stop is the work that we each can do,” said Coggs.