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‘20 Weeks, 20 Hoods’ promotes peace by building relationships

Residents of Milwaukee’s central city are campaigning for safer neighborhoods.

A group of about 25 marched through Garden Homes, just north of Capitol Drive near 27th Street, Sunday, attracting attention of motorists and other bystanders, some of whom came out of their homes to say hello. It was the third of 20 demonstrations planned throughout the summer in five central city neighborhoods that organizers hope will spread positivity and connect community members with resources.

Some North Side neighborhoods can be dangerous, particularly for Black men, who represent more than 80 percent of the city’s homicide deaths in recent years. Gun violence is a persistent challenge for many central city neighborhoods where a disproportionately high amount of residents experience poverty.

Vaun Mayes co-founded 20 Weeks, 20 Hoods in 2014. The marches were meant to combat violence by promoting alternatives. But he said more needs to be done.

“I felt like I was leaving people with their issues,” says Mays.

Since then, the campaign has conducted community surveys to find out what residents need. Mayes and others have also provided grief-counseling, and facilitated discussions between alderpeople and their constituents. The hope is that residents will become more involved in improving their quality of life.

Rodney Triggs, who lost a friend to gun violence, attended the march to display love for his community. “Someone has to say enough is enough,” he said. “If we don’t who will?”

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Demonstrators marched through the streets chanting “We don’t need no mother’s crying, we don’t need no children dying,” and other slogans meant to promote peace.

Isaiah Jacobs, who lives on the 2500 block of Hope Street, says it’s important for people to get involved, and stand up for the future they’d like to see.

“There’s a lot of violence in the community, and there aren’t enough people coming out to do something about it.”

The group will meet every Sunday at 2 p.m. through October 20. This week will mark the final demonstration in Garden Homes; the remaining neighborhoods have yet to be chosen.⬩

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