Victory over violence peace rally: ‘Intra-community violence has got to stop’

July 23, 2015

By Steve Waring

Special to the Milwaukee Times


They came slowly north along Martin Luther King, Jr., Drive on a humid Saturday morning during a march, part of a Victory Over Violence Peace Rally held July 11. The march concluded at Martin Luther King Elementary School with speakers, free t-shirts, games for children and refreshments.

Fortunately the march did not double as a funeral procession, although that tragedy very nearly came to pass the night before when a 15-year-old African American young man was shot in the stomach as he exited the public basketball courts on the opposite side of the school where the rally was held the next morning. Police have no leads as to the identity of the shooter.

Many of the estimated 250 participants seemed unaware of the shooting until Mayor Tom Barrett brought it up, encouraging participants to look at the makeshift memorial created for the victim. “In this city in this week, two teenage boys, African American boys were shot and killed by other teenaged boys,” Mayor Barrett said. “And last night we had another night where a teenage boy was shot by a teenage boy… Teenagers should not have guns,” the Mayor implored. Alderman Joe Davis, Sr., (2nd District) has already announced his intention to run against Mayor Barrett in 2016. He also spoke at the peace rally, agreeing with Mayor Barrett that getting rid of guns was a necessary first step.

“Violence is not something that just started happening today,” Alderman Davis said. “My assessment is that it is down to a lack of will to provide a better standard of life for black folks here in Milwaukee.” Jermaine Reed, executive director at Fresh Start Family Services and the event director, said he knew of the shooting prior to the Mayor’s announcement and decided not to publicize it out of concern it might cause people to stay away unnecessarily.

Mr. Reed said he first became motivated to start an intra-racial dialogue in April after a two-year-old African American boy darted out into the street and was struck and killed by an African motorist who was himself shot and killed allegedly by the boy’s uncle. The little boy’s 15-year-old brother, who had run to his aid, was also shot and killed during the melee. A few days later the alleged gunman shot and killed himself as police began to focus on him as the prime suspect. “Intra-community violence has got to stop,” said Mr. Reed. “That’s my message, but that doesn’t mean I can’t work with people who have other interests. Where there is unity there is strength. All interested groups need to work together.”

Sponsors of the event included: Fresh Start Family Services, New Pitts Mortuary, King of Glory International Christian Center, GSI General, Inc., and An organizing meeting which Mr. Reed said is open to anyone interested in stopping black-on-black violence is scheduled for August 1 from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., at 1720 W. Florist Ave. Suite 200. To pre-register or for more details call 414-351-1100 ext. 150.