By Ariele Vaccaro
It’s not often that Milwaukee residents get to watch a state politician fly at full speed down a water slide.
But on Wednesday evening, they did just that. Wisconsin Senator Lena Taylor (D–Milwaukee), dressed for summer fun in a blue swimsuit and a pair of comfortable toe shoes, joined families on Lincoln Park’s water rides. However, she came to the park’s National Night Out with more than just a ride on the lazy river in mind.
At the heart of the event was an effort to foster positive relationships between police and the Milwaukee communities they serve.
It was part of a nationwide movement to bring Americans and law enforcement together.
“It really just is a communal effort to say, ‘We are in this together,’ and that, together, we can make this the kind of community full of family fun and great times, like we’re doing today,” said Taylor.
The city and the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) helped to plan the evening.
Sergeant Ann Marie Domurat of the MPD attended National Night Out.
She, along with other city police officers, let community members know about the MPD’s crisis intervention team.
The group handles situations involving people facing mental health issues.
Domurat wanted Milwaukee residents to know that police officers are there to help them with a number of problems, however. “We’re not just there to respond to burglaries or things like that, we have other things that we can help people with,” said Domurat.
To the officer, the event’s underlying call for better relations between police and communities is essential.
“Without the public’s cooperation, the police can’t do anything.
So we really need to continue to build partnerships with everyone in the community and know what services we can offer them,” Domurat said.
Aside from a call for unity between law enforcement and the community, the event was anything but serious.
During an opening speech, Taylor pointed to a number of food trucks and vendors offering roasted corn, chicken, popcorn, snow cones, and mashed potatoes. She announced that she’d also be enjoying the park’s water rides with the first fifty people to join her.
At a nearby stage, a band slapped drums and plucked guitar strings. Joniece Monk, 26, and Akinyomi Courtney, 27, took a seat at picnic table to watch the performance.
The two are part of Ina Onilu, an African dance company.
Courtney would soon be on stage, playing drums for the group.
Though she wouldn’t be performing today, Monk was still eager to watch while enjoying the mild, sunny weather.
“It’s a beautiful day,” she said.
If you took a stroll down Lincoln Park’s path, you could watch members of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority members painting the outlines of butterflies and cat whiskers onto the faces of children doing their best to stay still, so as not to ruin colors.
Kids took turns shooting hoops at a blow-up basketball station, hosted by the Milwaukee Bucks.
Others took a moment away from the bustle to read a book at the Milwaukee Public Library’s reading station.
Bright orange, red, and blue corvettes lined the parks driveway, hoods open for passersby to view the impressive engines.
Among others represented at the night out were County Chairman Theo Lipscomb, a representative of Alderman Ashanti Hamilton, and the Milwaukee Fire Department.
Lincoln Park’s night out was one of many similar events that took place this past week as part of a national effort to encourage cooperation between law enforcement and the communities they serve.