By Karen Stokes
This weekend was designated for families to light up the grill, remember our veterans and celebrate the unofficial first weekend of summer but what occurred was violence in the city of Milwaukee and that violence dominated the narrative of the weekend.
Between Saturday through Monday there were 15 shootings, four dead and dozens wounded. According to information released from the Milwaukee Police Department, more people were shot and killed this Memorial Day weekend than the last two Memorial Day weekends combined.
On Saturday, Kenneth Bryant, 37, was shot during an argument near 29th Street and Vine and died later at the hospital.
Saturday night, William Wilson, 29, was fatally shot near 54th and Chambers.
At a gas station parking lot on Teutonia and Hampton, Teresa Wade, 24, was fatally shot during an argument on Sunday.
Jeffrey Horton was fatally shot near Hopkins Street and Courtland Ave.
Two children were involved in shootings during the weekend.
On Saturday a 7-yearold girl and a 27-year-old woman were shot near 67th Street. The woman was involved in an argument at the time of the shooting.
An 8-year-old boy and a 27-year-old man were struck by gunfire at 6200 block of W. Kaul Ave. after a fight broke out on the street. Both victims were treated at a hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.
Four suspects involved in the deadly shootings are in custody and three suspects in non fatal shootings. The police know who they are looking for in the three other cases.
“I am describing a social phenomenon that’s affecting this city which is a large number of individuals with significant criminal records that have access to firearms shooting each other and shooting innocent third parties. I do need a more thoughtful approach across the court as to how we sanction gun offenders, when gun violence is the number one problem in this city and it’s a deadly problem,” Chief Ed Flynn said at a news conference.
During a news conference held on Monday, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said, “There were situations where individuals clearly knew each other deciding they were going to solve whatever the dispute was with a gun.”
Chief Flynn was in agreement with Mayor Barrett that many of the shootings were not random.
“When we look at the total number of victims and offenders together there were 150 arrests in that population,” said Chief Flynn. “The majority of incidents stemmed from disputes between criminals.”
“In the vast majority of neighborhoods of the city, there have been picnics. There have been good times, but there are limited parts of the city where we have seen violence; in fact, far too much violence for anyone to accept,” Barrett said.
One of the positive neighborhood events in the community was the Heal the Hood Block Party on 10th and Atkinson where hundreds of city of Milwaukee residents gathered with no negative occurrences.
“As far as the violence this past weekend, it’s a grim reminder of why campaigns like Heal the Hood MKE Exist. Violence has become normalized in the inner city and we have to reverse that norm by changing the culture. We have to 1st address the trauma that children of color face every day in the community. Next we have to introduce attainable and sustainable employment and initiatives to actively and positively engage the youth. Next we have to be committed to consistency. We have to work diligently to strip our youth from the ills of poverty and replace it with high doses of love for themselves,those who look like them and the environment around them,” said Ajamou Butler, Founder of the Heal the Hood movement.
Tuesday morning, community activist Andre Lee Ellis, called an emergency press conference for people in the community to congregate on the corner of Hampton and Teutonia to rally and find solutions to change the narrative of this city.
Alderperson Milele Coggs, Senator Lena Taylor and Alderman Ashanti Hamilton were a few of the many community leaders present at the press conference.
“Despite the fact that we may have some tragic things that happened. We want you to know that the community is organized, it is motivated, it is committed to making sure that the children living in these communities that the families that have dedicated themselves to invest into these communities. We’re going to have the support that’s necessary to continue to have a safe summer,” said Alderman Ashanti Hamilton.