Five years after 21-year-old Shanica Adkins was killed in a car accident by a driver fleeing police, community members will gather together this weekend to keep Shanica’s memory alive and to honor her legacy.
Shanica was killed in 2009, just short of her graduation with a degree in social work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“If I can in a way do the work that she would be doing if she was still here, that’s what I want to do. I think she would want for everyone to come together in the spirit of fellowship and positivity,” said LaToya Adkins, event coordinator and president of Community Connections.
Formerly known as “Remembering Shanica Adkins,” Community Connections bringing family, friends and community members together for a positive cause, fun and fellowship, according to its website.
The event will include music, games, raffle prizes, food, a talent showcase and a resource fair. More than 30 community organizations, including the Blood Center of Wisconsin, Northwest Side Community Development Corporation, Kids Matter, Inc., and the Sherman Park Association will participate. Adkins anticipates between 200 and 300 people will attend.
Milwaukee County Supervisor David Bowen will deliver the keynote speech. “I will highlight some good things we can do as a community to continue to get ahead of violence before it grows into really large problems, including engaging our own young people and making sure that they, and everyone in our neighborhood, has access to opportunities,” he said.
Adkins invites law enforcement to the event to foster positive relationships between police and the community. She said it’s a chance for them to interact with community members, and their presence has helped her heal after the death of her cousin.
“I’ve never asked them to be there for any security purposes because we’ve never had any issues. But, just in terms of people seeing them in a more positive light and seeing them doing positive things and supporting these types of events, I think that’s very helpful,” she said.
Milwaukee Police Department District 5 officers have been at the event in the past and will attend this year, according to Community Liaison Officer Laurel Lammers.
“I think that anytime the police can be present at an event where we are not doing our normal day-to-day law enforcement action …gives people the opportunity to ask us questions about our jobs and just interact with us on more of a personal level,” Lammers added.
Adkins said she hopes community members will benefit from the resources offered and enjoy the chance to interact positively with others.
“I think that people have their own way of dealing with things, but in terms of what is best and most healthy for the community and for yourself, I’m really just trying to model that you can have something tragic happen to you and find a way to turn it around and try and find something positive from it.”
The free event will take place on Saturday, June 28, from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Roosevelt Drive between Olive Street and 22nd Street. The resource fair will be held from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.