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“We don’t feel safe in our own communities:” Milwaukee’s Youth Council members address violence

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The recent string of violence across the Milwaukee area has claimed a number of innocent victims -- many of them children. Just last week, five-year-old Laylah Petersen was shot and killed as she sat on her grandfather's lap inside a home near 58th and Fairmount. One day prior, four-year-old Ja'Nyela Marsh-Highshaw was shot as she sat in a vehicle near 18th and Villa in Racine. So what do Milwaukee's young people have to say about what's been going on in and around the city?

Young people who serve on Milwaukee's Youth Council say they've had enough. They're tired of hearing stories about their neighbors and friends falling victim to horrific crimes.

Milwaukee's Youth Council consists of a group of Milwaukee Public Schools students between the ages of 14 and 18 who come together twice a month to represent young people in their respective aldermanic districts.

"I think of us as the actual Common Council -- just with an age difference," 16-year-old Abena May said.

On Wednesday, November 12th the conversation turned to a topic these young people wish was never on the agenda: young victims of violence.

"This is ridiculous how we can`t walk around and don`t feel safe in our own communities," 17-year-old Sydnei Parker said.

There were also thoughts of Laylah Petersen -- laid to rest on Wednesday after she was shot in the head last week.

"Someone lost somebody that they love," May said.

"Violence is growing in Milwaukee and it`s something we could never have guessed," Cesar Gonzalez said.

The newest member of the council is 16-year-old Zeynab Ali. She's working on a documentary about gun violence -- soliciting solutions from city officials and her peers.

"The story of Sierra Guyton - that was my inspiration to take action. I think that violence starts out with trouble - not just only teens, but families in general," Ali said.

For those fed up with violence, there are signs change is coming, and we don't have to wait for these kids to grow up to see it.

"Begin at the schools -- at the school level," Gonzalez said.

"Educate the citizens of Milwaukee and tell them that violence is never the solution," Parker said.

"We can do pretty much anything we put our minds to," May said.

The Youth Council is planning a youth forum on violence. It will offer kids a chance to come together and talk about these issues.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Milwaukee Youth Council.


  • Brittany

    Wow. So my.comment regarding the fact that some, if not most, of these kids are related to Milwaukee politicians WAS DELETED. A fact I fpumd pdd simce this is a non elected position that distributes real funding. If its not true, why would someone take the time tp.get it deleted?

  • cynic

    Sorry kids, unless the traditional two-parent family returns, the judicial system starts doing it’s job, and the citizens begin protecting themselves, nothing will change. It’s cute and all to see the kids play politics, but it’s the very politicians they’re emulating that are contributing to the downfall of the black community. Keep them on the leashes of entitlements, and let their misdeeds go without consequences, and we’ll be having these political playdates for years to come.

  • XTO

    These children know who is dealing drugs,these children know who has the guns,these children know who robbed the store,these children know who robbed who,these children know who beat who,these children know who perpetuates the crime in thier community, Let’s start there!!

    • beavis and butthead

      if you don’t associate with criminals then NO you don’t know. and being that these kids are obviously concerned and have been taught responsibility, if they knew something, I’d be willing to bet they would share that information.

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