“I was adopted”

Jasen Komar walks west down Dakota Street toward South 13th in Milwaukee’s South Side Polonia neighborhood. Komar’s gait is brisk, and he walks with a smile on his face.

“I feel like I’m the glue of my family, really.” he says. “You know, my family, we’re going through a lot ‘a things — we’ve been going through a lot ‘a things. I’m kind ‘a like the goofy one in the family, you know — I play too much, I’m outspoken sometimes.”

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“I’m trying to make my own life”

Yolanda Oyola stands, inconspicuous, in the shadow of a large building on the corner of Dakota and S. 9th Place. She wears her multi-colored hair in a large bunch on the top of her head. But, despite the ostentatious look, Oyola speaks with a gentle meekness.

“I missed my friends back in Massachusetts,” she says. “But, um, I got used to Milwaukee and, yeah, it’s nice living here. I got new friends … so, everything’s good.”

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“I’ve just never been a patient person”

Joseph Fornicola stands outside his home, shirtless, smoking a cigarette near the corner of South 9th Place and West Dakota Street on Milwaukee’s south side. Fornicola has a tough look about him, a feeling aided by the many tattoos that adorn his upper body. Then again, he’s spent his whole life on the South Side, most of it around gangs and drugs.

“It became a part of my daily life,” says Fornicola of the gang life. “Till I grew up and realized that’s childish. Had to [outgrow] it, but, for a while, you know, growin’ up, you’re impressionable.”

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