Amid violent death of teen, students plant new life in park

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Five days after the violent death of a Career Youth Development teen, elementary school students brought new life to the "Victory Over Violence" Park, a green recreational area that bears the CYD name.

"We're turning a page in our community and that's why all these young people are here," said CYD Director James Ferguson about the park's beautification.

On Monday, May 19th, a gunman killed 16-year-old Marvin Cottrell Jr. outside an apartment complex at 24th and Glendale in the early morning. Cottrell was a member of CYD and described as an "important person" to the program by Ferguson.

"We're planting new roots, turning new ground so we can stand strong against violence together," Ferguson added.

To commemorate his memory, CYD will hold a music expo at the park on June 19th, the one month anniversary of Cottrell's death, Ferguson said.

Though students in grades two through five planted the garden, the beds were built in collaboration with students at the Milwaukee School of Engineering.

"It's wonderful and I hope in five to 10 years, I see some of those kids in my classes," said an assistant professor at MSOE, Michael Carrier. "I would really like to see some of these kids get excited about gardening, but also engineering."

In five to 10 years, Ferguson said he hopes his neighborhood will have achieved "Victory Over Violence" - even if it comes one plant at a time.

"For every time there's a violent act, we have to counter that with a message of peace," Ferguson said.

The park is located near the corner of Center and Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive.