Our city, after sundown: FOX6’s Ted Perry spends the night with a family living near 13th and Ring

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Violence is a big problem in Milwaukee. Just last week -- we saw two young children shot as they sat in a van near 37th and Hadley. That incident had Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn stepping up patrols in the area -- vowing to give residents in high-crime neighborhoods a little peace of mind -- a "taste of life in the suburbs." FOX6 News learned first-hand recently that many families need such a break, especially in this city, after sundown.

Maybe it's his disposition: friendly, but authoritative. Or maybe it's the signs throughout his store, but it takes about 30 seconds to conclude that Robert Jones is a man of faith and good cheer.

He and his wife, Eloise run the "Prosperity Hands" dry cleaning shop on North Teutonia. It is a welcoming place. People flow in and out -- but at the end of the business day, Jones makes sure there will be no unwanted visitors.

As day turns to night, Jones will go to a place where locks are always in use: his home.

It's a Friday night in summer. Eloise fries catfish on the stove. Their daughter Diamond sets the table for dinner.

It is a beautiful night on Milwaukee's north side -- perfect for enjoying dinner outside. But the Jones' don't dare even consider it.

"You don't know what might happen next, so you don't put yourself in harm's way. If we want to go out at night, we get in the car and go to the lakefront," Eloise Jones said.

Their caution isn't based in paranoia, but history.

"We've had gunfire just across the street," Eloise Jones said.

Shooting after shooting after shooting -- some of them fatal, have occurred just blocks from their home near 13th and Ring.

The Jones' aren't the only ones afraid to go outside. On the night FOX6 visited, not a single neighbor took advantage of the summer breeze.

"When I hear gunfire I look at my husband and say 'let it not be another death in the community,'" Eloise Jones said.

When asked how often they hear gunshots, the Jones' responded: every night.

And then, as if on cue -- a gunshot was heard as a FOX6 crew interviewed the family.

The Jones' home is well-kept, inviting and loving. It is filled with laughter, but there's also a lot of precaution. The family stays inside at night -- rarely using their own front porch. And it's not just a fear of gunfire. It's quality of life.

"Somebody's parked their car and blowing their music. The whole house shakes," Robert Jones said.

Robert and Eloise Jones' daughter Diamond has two goals. Short-term: to be a great dancer. Long-term: to be a police detective. She's tough, smart and thoughtful. She can take care of herself -- and yet outside her own door is so much potential for trouble. She's not allowed to go alone to the neighborhood grocery store just two blocks away.

"I will never walk to it because every time I look outside there's a group of young men and ladies -- and you never know what trouble they might cause.  Some might cause trouble -- some might not. I don't put myself in that situation," Diamond Jones said.

"It seems unfair because you try your hardest to be a role model, to do right, and the neighborhood kicks you in the tail," Robert Jones said.

This family isn't bitter about what happens on the street. They are empathetic.

"My life is an open book," Eloise Jones said.

18 years ago, their lives were much different.

"I was a drug addict, dealer," Eloise Jones said.

"I was a backsliding minister," Robert Jones said.

Since their conversion to Christianity, they've been clean and sober and have raised four responsible children.

"I tell them the truth. I tell them what's out there. They know where their mom been. I didn't hide it. They know where their dad been," Eloise Jones said.

So, they know the streets, and they know they're more frightening now than ever before. Eloise Jones recounted a conversation she recently had at the dry cleaning shop.

"I shared with him where I came from and I said 'what's the difference now -- between then and now?' He said trust," Eloise Jones said.

"Their value of life is zero," Robert Jones said.

That's why fighting the fight alone is precarious.

Late at night, in his own backyard, Robert Jones explains why people are reluctant to speak up.

"That's their music, and they feel that they have a right to play that. Me telling them -- 'hey man, why don't you turn that down?' I'm either going to get cussed out, capped at, or they're going to come back and do a drive-by," Robert Jones said.

Yet, they haven't given up -- and they won't. Their faith won't allow it.

"We trust the same God that brought us through the hell we were just in. You try and connect with your neighbor. You do your best -- and maybe, just maybe, another neighbor will catch on," Eloise Jones said.

11 comments

  • Mick

    In my neighborhood at night we have fun… The country is so much better than the city and people are NOT running around shooting people…

  • Bill Watts

    Good job Fox 6 news, that was a great story. WTMJ4 could learn a lot from you guys, keep it up!

  • Kesha

    Thanks so much Ted Perry for reporting taking this on. Every community in Milwaukee has so many untold stories of families like the Jones; people who are taxpaying, hardworking, and educated. We don’t allow our kids to walk to the store or ride the city bus for fear of what might happen. I own my home down the street from this family on 6th and Ring and in the 4 years that I have lived there I have witnessed shootings, my son was jumped by a group of kids (he is a trained Army Soldier so they picked the wrong “victim”), seen the playground set on fire across from my house, and the list goes on and on. My main fear is sitting in my living room and getting shot by a stray bullet. We were enticed by the city’s urban development efforts that made our home affordable. My husband and I are both educated and well aware that there is an social & education issue going on here that is very hard to address. However now that we are here WHAT does the city plan to do to keep us here? Bob Donovan is very vocal about his District. I would like to see what Milele Coggs has to say about this??

  • Ubiquitous King

    I am really tired of the voluntary exploitations of African communities by its own members. The shared stereotypical view of these “Christian” folk about their own community saddens me because at the conception of this metropolitan fiasco is integration and the proliferation of offspring by non-educated persons who have a plethora of issues that are both legitimate and pseudo in relation to the effects the issues have had on their standard of living. Churches are as plentiful as liquor stores in the metropolitan areas, but so is the hell being raised. So I would argue that the solution is not faith based because we have a “real” tangible problem affecting the metropolitan area and not a believed one. The solution has to be holistically African because the problem plaguing the African community is basically an identity crisis. African parents get up off your rears and do for your family that which can only be done genuinely by you, educate them and yourselves simultaneously. It is not the responsibility of your neighbor to provide you with educational facilities, it is not the job of your neighbor to provide your community with social services and its not the job of your neighbor to create investment opportunities and economic collaborations within your community, that is our job. It is not the job of your neighbor to police your community, it is our jobs. The problem with incivility being rectified in the community is that the unlearned are the sons and daughters of community members and we have bitten in to the individualistic propaganda of this country. NEVER in genuine African culture do we put individuals over the whole of the community, but here in this country this mentality is destroying potential economic strongholds. It is fine to have no snitching, but then what is the consequence of infractions committed against one’s community? STOP LETTING YOUR NEIGHBOR GIVE YOU ADVICE ABOUT YOUR HOUSE WHEN YOUR NEIGHBOR’S HOUSE NEEDS AMENDMENTS. Black people/African/African-American, whatever you do take the initiative to bring genuine knowledge into your household, educate your children at home, schools are to be looked at as formalities and are only to be used to learn about your neighbor’s perspective because there is no genuine African information in the US educational curricula. This is why your babies reject the information, because they do not see themselves in it, not the “white folk” fault your babies do not know about self, its your fault. Stop being psychologically lazy, no more Tyler Perry, Oprah, The View, Wendy Williams, Maury et. al. Economics, mathematics, anthropology, business, entrepreneurism, collaborative investing, agriculture et.al. should be what the emphasis is on in the African households. GET UP, GET TO WORK and GET FREE!

    • Kesha

      Your straw man argument is full of almost every negative stereotype of african american communities known to man. I would be impressed but this sprawling diatribe of yours has very little do do with this family. My question is this… Who do you work for???

    • An too

      Thank you I am sick and tired of the Bo hoo of the blacks it is there owe doing and how they want to live and act no one forced them to do this so what there are no poor white people I am so fe up of butt kissing of the blacks it will always be there life. Stile they choose

  • Ell

    AN TOO
    Do NOT act as a Caucasian representative when your spelling and grammatical proficiency barely rivals that of a remedial first grader.

  • Ubiquitous King

    I am really tired of the voluntary exploitations of African communities by its own members. The shared stereotypical view of these “Christian” folk about their own community saddens me because at the conception of this metropolitan fiasco is integration and the proliferation of offspring by non-educated persons who have a plethora of issues that are both legitimate and pseudo in relation to the effects the issues have had on their standard of living. Churches are as plentiful as liquor stores in the metropolitan areas, but so is the hell being raised. So I would argue that the solution is not faith based because we have a “real” tangible problem affecting the metropolitan area and not a believed one. The solution has to be holistically African because the problem plaguing the African community is basically an identity crisis. African parents get up off your rears and do for your family that which can only be done genuinely by you, educate them and yourselves simultaneously. It is not the responsibility of your neighbor to provide you with educational facilities, it is not the job of your neighbor to provide your community with social services and its not the job of your neighbor to create investment opportunities and economic collaborations within your community, that is our job. It is not the job of your neighbor to police your community, it is our jobs. The problem with incivility being rectified in the community is that the unlearned are the sons and daughters of community members and we have bitten in to the individualistic propaganda of this country. NEVER in genuine African culture do we put individuals over the whole of the community, but here in this country this mentality is destroying potential economic strongholds. It is fine to have no snitching, but then what is the consequence of infractions committed against one’s community? STOP LETTING YOUR NEIGHBOR GIVE YOU ADVICE ABOUT YOUR HOUSE WHEN YOUR NEIGHBOR’S HOUSE NEEDS AMENDMENTS. Black people/African/African-American, whatever you do take the initiative to bring genuine knowledge into your household, educate your children at home, schools are to be looked at as formalities and are only to be used to learn about your neighbor’s perspective because there is no genuine African information in the US educational curricula. This is why your babies reject the information, because they do not see themselves in it, not the “white folk” fault your babies do not know about self, its your fault. Stop being psychologically lazy, no more Tyler Perry, Oprah, The View, Wendy Williams, Maury et. al. Economics, mathematics, anthropology, business, entrepreneurism, collaborative investing, agriculture et.al. should be what the emphasis is on in the African households. GET UP, GET TO WORK and GET FREE! No more NEO-COONs!!!

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