Vaun Mayes talks about growing up in the South, the importance of empathy and the forces — including racism, profiteering and crime — at work in Milwaukee.
Vaun Mayes — recently indicted for plotting to firebomb a police station in 2016 — was released from federal custody last week after a judge struck down an appeal from the United States Attorney’s Office that sought to keep him in custody during the trial.
Chris Sims sits on a set of porch stairs near 38th and Auer in Sherman Park. Sims, who sports purple and black to match his flat-brimmed Baltimore Ravens hat, wears the words “Loyalty” and “Respect” on his forearms. “I don’t know what I really wanna do,” he says. “I guess I’m just gonna have to go explorin’ somewhere. I can’t stand still — gotta move around and get what you want.”
Omar Gayle stands on the porch of a home near the corner of 42nd Street and Auer Avenue. Gayle’s flat-brimmed baseball cap and multi-colored tee pop with fashion, but can’t explain his journey, or where he started from. “I’m a Jamaican,” he says. “It’s a humble beginnin’. We learn to appreciate people and life. I learned to make use of what we got.”
Lonnie Hughes stand just off the curb in front of his home in Sherman Park. He talks with a friend as he leans on the handle of a broom, his right hand covered by a tattered work glove. “When I moved to this neighborhood, it was a fantastic—well, it’s still a great neighborhood,” he says. “People agree, neighbors get along great.”
Lorne Payne sits on a porch in Sherman Park, surrounded by his children. Payne attempts a smile but it’s more a look of fear that comes through — the pain in his eyes is the only thing that’s clear. “My kids keep me alive,” he says. “I love on my kids, make sure they’re happy. I [can] be sad as hell [as] long as my kids happy.”
A group of protesters have taken up residence outside a BP gas station in Sherman Park and are asking community members to take their business elsewhere after an employee dispersed a crowd of Black youth Tuesday night with gunshots.
Elected officials, city officials and community leaders gathered with youth at Sherman Park in a demonstration of support after a violent standoff the night before between Milwaukee youth and police, but when police detained a young teen tensions flared.
Peaches Ellis leans against a railing of her porch in Sherman Park. The 49-year-old wears a wide smile; her bellowing laugh can be heard early and often, in between sentences, up and down a sunny 41st Street. “It was beautiful, it really was,” says Ellis of growing up in Milwaukee. “That was a long time ago. But it was beautiful because it was more peaceful, everybody got along, everybody helped one another.”
Coleone Davis canvasses the intersection at 35th and Burleigh, sign in hand, hoping for some extra cash. On this hot summer afternoon, Davis rests on a shaded bench in front of the eastbound stoplight of West Burleigh Street. “You know how you fall sometimes? I want to get back up to where I was. And this ain’t me. This ain’t me,” says Davis, who has been out of regular work for about a month.