1. Community response
In the days and weeks following the weekend of unrest, community members gathered in and around the park to continue to protest, clean up, pray, read poetry and hold other events such as barbecues and drum circles. Many neighbors discussed their frustration and sadness, as well as the inequality in the city that many said was the root cause of the tension that led to the unrest.
Local leaders worked to provide recreational opportunities and support for youth in the park. Neighbors and youth workers expressed anger about the park’s restricted hours, saying it gave young people in the area “nowhere to go.”
2. Investments promised in Sherman Park
Over the course of a few months—as conversations of root causes of the unrest surfaced and concerns were raised about unemployment, over-policing, discrimination and lack of opportunity—an influx of investments came into the Sherman Park area, and government officials and philanthropists alike made promises to the residents of the Sherman Park neighborhood to improve housing stock, quality of life and job availability.
3. Officer faces charges, acquitted in Smith’s death
In October 2016, Milwaukee Police Department officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown was charged with numerous sex-related crimes and fired from the department. In December 2016, he was charged with first-degree reckless homicide for the shooting of Sylville Smith, and community members demanded to see body camera footage. Heaggan-Brown was acquitted for the shooting in the summer of 2017.
4. Community marks one-year anniversary
Throughout the summer of 2017, artist Tia Richardson unveiled the “Sherman Park Rising” mural that she created in collaboration with community members. The Boys and Girls Club in Sherman Park opened up a teen center, and Sylville Smith’s family hosted a Back to School Bash event in the park.
5. Sherman Phoenix opens
In December 2018, the Sherman Phoenix opened, transforming the old BMO Harris Bank that burned down during the unrest into a community space, food hall and business hub. The development houses 29 small businesses focused on wellness, all run by entrepreneurs of color, most of whom are women. Co-developers JoAnne Johnson-Sabir and Juli Kaufmann collaborated with community members, officials and local business leaders to bring the project to life, utilizing innovative financing models.
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About Allison Dikanovic
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