By Dylan Deprey
As Milwaukee sinks its toes into the middle of the summer, it has been a tragic repeat of last year. There is always that heart-sinking feeling in the stomach any time a headline flashes that another life is taken by careless gun violence.
It hurts even more when that loss is an innocent bystander, let alone a young teenager simply walking across the street for a snack.
Emani Robinson, a 16- year-old, was struck by a stray bullet while walking to a local corner store on 39th and Center on June 25, 2017.
Latosha Davis, Robinson’s mother, expressed her loss and asked for change in the community in a painful Facebook post.
“My heart is broken. To deal with one loss. But, to bury my child. I’m supposed to go before my children. Never to see him graduate. Gain that football scholarship. Or his prom, his first date. All the things I dreamed of. Never in my wildest dreams I would’ve thought this could happen to me. Happen to my family. I tried to be a good mother and raise my children right. Give them the morals and guidance to make it in this world. We would never get the opportunity to seen what he would have become,” Davis said.
Forina Brooks, a neighbor on for over 25 years on 37th and Center, said she was deeply saddened by Robinson’s death.
“I’ve heard of the killings over the years, but this one just really made my heart feel heavy,” Brooks said. “In my time with God, he spoke to me and said ‘you need to do something.’”
After getting her nephew and Program the Parks Initiative founder, Vaun L. Mayes, and an eclectic group of advocates, faith-based leaders, city officials and neighbors together, they have prepared to build unity through a Peace and Prayer Walk event in memory of Emani Robinson on July 9th, 2017.
The event will take over the empty space on the corner of 37th and Center. Along with a peace and prayer walk, there will be music, a community cookout, clothing drive, fundraiser, community patrols and a community cleanup.
Partners include: Program the Parks, Office of Violence Prevention, A Cry For Help Foundation, Center St. Bid, Nation of Islam (Mosque #3), Freedom Fighters and more.
“This year has really been about unity, and that is really what we’re trying to do with this event,” Mayes said.
Mayes added that Robinson’s death hit home, as he was beginning to be frequent face in Sherman Park. He said Robinson was always joking around and was usually playing on the basketball court. He was even being set up with a summer jobs through Program the Parks.
“He was competitive, and athletic. He’d always call me New York, and I don’t know where he got that from,” Mayes said laughing. “He just wanted to be a young person and wanted to have fun, he was easy to get along with and I think it’s unfortunate that this happened.” Brooks said she hopes the event can bring the neighborhood together to try and put an end to the senseless deaths in our neighborhoods.
“I think that this is the time it needs to happen, especially in this area because the people need hope,” Brooks said.