By Laura  /  February 22, 2019
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Neighborhood

Disrupted

photo courtesy Nick Hansen Last week, I witnessed a solemn procession. I-94 was closed off for the funeral of Officer Matthew Rittner. I sat in my car on the overpass above and watched the police cars in their procession through Milwaukee. There were firetrucks parked on each overpass with firefighters and bystanders standing at attention as the cars rolled on underneath the bridge. It took me over two hours to get home that day in what is usually a seven minute drive. It was during rush hour and cars were lined up end to end in nearly standstill traffic. But as I sat in my car waiting for traffic to move, it occurred to me that our city ought to feel disrupted by this. This is the last tribute from family, friends and colleagues to a man who offered his life–and it’s deeply saddening that someone took it. That person is Jordan Fricke. On February 6th, Milwaukee Police went to his home on Milwaukee’s south side with a search warrant for drugs and an illegal firearm. Officer Rittner used a ram to gain entry to the upper unit of the residence and Fricke fired four shots through the hole in […]

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The Sherman Phoenix

On Friday night in Milwaukee, there was only one place to be: the Sherman Phoenix. We’ve all been waiting and watching and she spread her wings at last. … We were all witnesses on the night it burned. We gathered in Sherman Park the day after the unrest–and day after that and the day after that. We had our reasons for coming there: we were angry, hurt, wanting to help, wanting to show support for Sylville’s family. It was hard to know where to go from here. And then JoAnne Sabir and Juli Kaufmann had an idea that led us all. Sabir & Kaufmann had a vision to create something from the ashes and the idea of the Sherman Park Phoenix was born. They renovated the fire-damaged BMO Harris Bank into a food hall, community gathering place and entrepreneurial hub. It is now home to 29 black-owned businesses featuring coffee and counseling, yoga and cupcakes–and the stuff dreams are made of.  The Phoenix holds more than great  businesses though. It holds hope for Milwaukee. The full listing of businesses and services can be found here. The Sherman Phoenix is located at 3536 W. Fond du Lac Ave. According to a […]

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Gunshots & Carrots

Sage appeared in my doorway, wrapped in her comforter, her big sister right behind her. “Mom, were those gunshots?” It was 9:30 pm and the girls had been in bed for an hour. I had heard the shots–3 of them with several eerie pauses between–fired in the alley behind my house. I was hoping that the girls were asleep and didn’t hear. But here we are on my bed having a conversation I wasn’t prepared to have tonight. “Mom, why do we live in Sherman Park?” … We’ve lived here ten years now and these conversations are never easy, especially now that my kids are older and more aware. I talked with my girls for awhile that night, which puts me in a strange sisterhood of mothers who have detailed discussions with their children about what to do when we hear nearby gunshots. I called 911 and they sent a squad car. The officers in the squad called to tell me they were in the area. The girls slept in bed with me for awhile that night, and as they drifted to sleep, I felt the same doubt and fear that my sisterhood likely feels: am I able to protect […]

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The Culture of Sherman Park

My next door neighbor Bryan waved me over to his yard and asked, “Have you seen my Facebook post?” I hadn’t, so he showed me the window in his living room. In the center of that lovely, 90-year old leaded glass was a bullet hole. The previous night around 7pm, that bullet shot through the living room window and then through the glass paned-door that lead into his dining room. It was likely a stray bullet from several blocks away. As you’d expect, Bryan was upset and frustrated; he had been at dinner at a neighbor’s house when it happened and thankfully, there were no injuries. As I walked home, the news sunk in and my focus became more singular: where was I at 7 pm last night? I was at the table in my dining room, eating dinner with my family. Right next door. I want to be able to think well about the complexity and paradox of living in Sherman Park, because when a bullet shoots through a body or through your home, it’s not the time for saying something trite or simplistic. It is a profound moment, when all goes quiet and I feel compelled to process […]

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