By Dylan Deprey
May 5, 2016-9-year-old girl is caught in the crossfire of a shootout near 15th and Meinecke.
May 12, 2016-A 47-yearold women shot in the thigh outside of Foodtown Supermarket.
May 15, 2016-A 29-yearold man and 30-year-oldman were shot while sitting in their car near Richards and Hadley.
Every day names are etched onto the list of those shot in Milwaukee.
The flashing of red and blue lights reflecting over the web of yellow caution tape surrounding another shooting victim has become a daily occurrence in the city of Milwaukee.
The 53206 zip code has been the setting for many of the same scenarios. It is well known across the country as having the disreputable title of the highest rate of incarceration in America. Calvary Baptist Church is located smack-dab in the middle of the 53206 zip code.
Calvary is the oldest Baptist church in Milwaukee and has assisted in the civil rights movement as well as women’s rights movements. They are also assisting in the fight against gun violence.
On May 15, 2016, Calvary was also the first of three stops on Mayor Tom Barrett’s twelfth annual Ceasefire Sabbath. This effort is to organize the faith-based communities in Milwaukee to aid in improving the neighborhoods as well as spread a message of peace throughout the community. Barrett also stopped at La Luz Del Mundo Church and Abundant Faith of Integrity Church.
Barrett described his thought process to the congregation when scrolling through the daily messages he receives when there is a shooting.
“When I get the text message, what is going through my mind is ‘this is going to be an African American man.’” Barrett said. “I’m also sorry to tell you that I am almost always right.”
The constant vibration of tragedy in his pocket has been a clear indicator for change.
Barrett noted that Sunday was the deadliest day in Milwaukee. He offered that the church could reach out to those that the police cannot.
“People at the bar on Saturday at two in the morning are not sitting in pews, but it is their mother, grandmother or uncle sitting here.”
Barrett described his ultimate goal for Milwaukee to the petitioners of Calvary Church at the beginning of the service.
“I envision a city where grandmas can sit on their front porch and watch their grandkids play safely in their front yard,” Barrett said.
Rev. Dr. John R. Walton Jr. is the senior pastor at Calvary Baptist Church. He strives for Calvary Baptist Church to be an oasis where people want to come and forget about the problems outside. He wants it to be place for people to be proud of.
“Calvary to me is a representation of fruitfulness and vitality in the midst of a spiritual, socioeconomic desert,” Walton Jr. said.
“That is our mission to transform the community for Christ. Life by life, family by family, household by household… that is what we’re here for.”
Calvary’s programs include the tenth annual summer enrichment camp, clothing bank and community meals and breakfasts provided once a month by the church.
While everyone in Milwaukee is not Christian, Walton Jr. also serves as the vice chair for the interfaith conference of Greater Milwaukee which brings together all faiths.
Samuel Walton, 12, is a member of the church. He has not personally seen the violence first hand but hears about it on a daily basis from his classmates.
“There is this a kid who said he hears gunshots all the time and is afraid to leave his house. He is afraid to leave for school,” Walton said.
Barrett noted that teamwork between the city, police department and faith-based organizations is the way to clear the violence from Milwaukee streets.
Although the fight against gun violence is still in the midst, parishioner Savannah Rice, 18, has taken notice of some changes in the community that follow along with Barrett’s vision.
“Yesterday, my friend and I were talking about how we actually saw kids playing outside and we got really excited to see that,” Rice said.