Madison Webb, the incoming president of the Amani Youth Council, sees her neighborhood as “peaceful” and “like a family.”
Both ideas are central to the Amani Youth Council’s Youth March Against Gun Violence, which returns for a fourth year from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
For Webb, a 16-year-old Amani resident, the march is not so much a protest but a chance for community members to make signs and demonstrate that they do not support gun violence or violence in general.
“A lot of gun violence comes from people not liking each other and not having a sense of community,” Webb said. “If we’re all one and we’re teaming up against this, I feel like that would really make someone notice that hey, this isn’t OK, like you have us, like we’re all a community, you don’t have to come in our community and hurt somebody with a firearm.”
A forum to speak against violence
The march will start at Dominican Center, 2470 W. Locust St., and move throughout the neighborhood.
Priscilla Coggs-Jones, who represents the 13th District on the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, will be a guest speaker.
There will be an open mic for anyone who wishes to speak on violence in the community. There will also be food and games.
Marches in past years have drawn big groups of residents from all ages, according to Elizabeth Brown, who is the chairperson for Friends of Moody Park, Amani United’s president and chairperson for education and family well-being.
She also serves as the youth coordinator for the Dominican Center and is the support person for the youth council.
“We have a lot of elders in our community, and they might not be able to do the march, but they do show up for the festivities and everything else,” Brown said.
‘We’ve lost too many people’
In Amani’s Moody Park, artists and community members painted tributes to people the community has lost on the backboards of basketball hoops, and their names are scattered around the park, Webb said.
“We’ve lost too many people in this community from gun violence and that’s not OK,” Webb said.
According to the Milwaukee Police Department’s crime map, one homicide has been reported in Amani this year, an 89% decrease from nine reported last year at this time and an 83% decrease in year-to-date homicides from 2021.
While acknowledging gun violence impacts Amani, Webb also sees the youth march as a chance to raise awareness, adding “this isn’t a bad community, and people shouldn’t be so quick to put it in a category or a box.”
About the Amani Youth Council
The Youth March Against Gun Violence is just one example of the events the Amani Youth Council puts on for the community.
The council meets every other Saturday at the Dominican Center to plan programming for youths and the broader community in Moody Park, often focusing on mental health. Though it’s mainly for ages 12 to 24, all youths are welcome to attend and a junior council is being worked on for younger kids.
“Everything they do is all their idea,” Brown said. “I don’t come up with the stuff, I just help them put it in perspective and work on it in a way where they can actually do it.”
Amani Youth Council also spotlights local small businesses through entrepreneur showcases where it purchases a business’s product or service and then promotes it to the community for free.
The council receives funding from the Milwaukee Parks Foundation and has events running throughout the summer, including Fun Friday gatherings and Sound Baths.
For more information
Meredith Melland is the neighborhoods reporter for the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service and a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities. Report for America plays no role in editorial decisions in the NNS newsroom.