By Karen Stokes
A special program focusing on the recent unrest and violence in Milwaukee premiered Tuesday on CBS 58.
The commercial-free hour highlighted five families reliving the terror of their children being struck down by violence for no fault of their own. Even though some of the murders occurred years ago, the pain was still visibly raw.
The five families represented were:
Lisa Ettienne, mother of Marcus Deback (9), shot in 1995 on the playground.
Onjuan Guyton, father of Sierra Guyton (10), two years ago a man used her as a shield during a gunfight on her school’s playground.
Romona Boone, aunt of ZaLayla Jenkins (9), died by gunfire at her cousin’s house while protecting her cousins from gunshots in May.
Devin Cameron, mother of Giovannie Cameron (13), shot by his cousin at home.
Latoshia Stewart, mother of Jonosha Alexander (17), shot walking home from Bay View High School in 2010.
“It’s like someone took your heart out and jumped on it, then told you to use it,” Ettienne said. “You’re hollow and you don’t feel you can go through the motions.”
“My feelings were bottled up for a long time because I was always the shoulder through the whole situation everybody was leaning on me,” Guyton said.
Producer Amanda Porterfield, who also anchored the program, is a 10-year broadcast veteran from Chicago who transferred to Milwaukee six months ago to join the CBS 58 team.
Porterfield has deep family roots in Milwaukee and spent a portion of her childhood here.
“I became passionate about these issues at a young age,” Porterfield said. “The news director and the station said they wanted to do this program because as members of the community we are committed to the community. I am grateful for the opportunity that led me to this because I’ve never had this type of experience as a journalist.”
There are some residents of suburban area communities that believe they are not affected by the poverty and violence that occurs in the city of Milwaukee. Porterfield believes that whether it be gun violence, poverty or lack of education or jobs is not in your backyard there is potential that it could be in your backyard soon.
“These five families whose children, 17 and under, were killed by a situation they did not cause and were completely random. If you are a mother, father, brother or sister…if you are a human, you should identify with these families,” said Porterfield. “These are five kids that are dead because of gun violence, if you don’t care about that, what do you care about?
Milwaukee leadership and the community are working on solutions to the violence.
Mayor Tom Barrett announced an increase to the budget to hire additional police officers and more police funding.
“We have to have a strong and adequate police presence,” Barrett said.
Police Chief Ed Flynn, Sheriff Clarke and Mayor Barrett are in agreement in having more police on the streets.
Community leaders have a plan to solve some violence issues.
One example is Safe Zones. Safe Zones is a program about violence interruption. To mediate and settle disputes before they can escalate to violence.
The program began last summer in the Garden Homes neighborhood and is expanding to Franklin Heights.
one “HOOD” (Helping Others Obtain Direction) ambassadors are trained in violence prevention, conflict resolution and outreach.
There is a theory that young people get involved in gangs because of a lack of recreation. For that reason in 1980, Victor Barnett founded The Running Rebels community organization.
“I started the program to stop kids from joining gangs and to have activities that kept their interest,” Barnett said.
The organization offers sports, arts and recreation as an alternative to violence and youth becoming involved in gang activity.
“Violence does not solve anything,” said Boone. “We should have all come together to let them know that we are going to stick together. As humans, we should stick together because we are all in this together.”
To share your comments or opinions on the program or what’s happening in our city contact CBS 58 at 414-607-8140 or firstname.lastname@example.org