“Enough is enough:” Faith leaders unveil “adopt a block” program, hope to curb gun violence

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- "Enough is enough." That's the message from faith leaders after 13-month-old Bill Thao lost his life after shots were fired into a home near 73rd and Mill last Saturday night, December 27th. Thao has become the third child to die as a result of gun violence in the past seven months. Faith leaders gathered Tuesday night, December 30th to pray for Bill Thao and his family, and to remember all 86 people lost to gun violence in Milwaukee this year.

Bill Thao

Bill Thao

"Our community's on life support. We in critical condition. We hanging on a string," Pastors United President Elder Gregory Lewis said.

Leaders with Milwaukee's faith community are working to change the community from the ground up.

"It really affects our credibility because while we`re protesting police violence against black males and those kind of things people are saying 'but what about what you`re doing to yourselves? What about the incidents that are occurring that you are perpetrating?'" Lewis said.

In front of Tabernacle Community Baptist Church Tuesday night, faith leaders and elected officials announced a plan to combat the violence -- churches will "adopt a block."

"If Milwaukee is going to change, the pastors are going to have to do it," Mose Fuller, pastor at St. Timothy Community Baptist Church said.

"Each church will be responsible for a block. You will get to know your block -- everybody on your block -- all the landlords and homeowners. We want the bad landlords and the criminal activity out of the community," Milwaukee Alderman Russell Stamper said.

"Having vigils like we`re having (Tuesday night) are one thing. It`s praying. It`s doing those things that we`re supposed to be doing -- but then we need to get off our butts and go out there and do something about (the violence)," Richard Schwoegler, a spokesman for Laylah Petersen's family said.

Laylah Petersen

Laylah Petersen

Five-year-old Laylah Petersen died in November, when she was shot while sitting on her grandfather's lap in a home near 58th and Fairmount. No one has been arrested in that case.

She and others were remembered during Tuesday night's vigil. Eighty-six candles represented each person gone too soon as a result of gun violence.

"I'm holding the candle of Michael Burr. He's my friend Shannon's cousin that was killed. Every night is a constant. There is someone killed -- children getting killed. It's not okay," Vickie Sostre said as she prayed for peace Tuesday night.

Lewis and others are encouraging folks to share information with police, so that those responsible for these crimes can be brought to justice.

"If you`re a good citizen, telling the police or anyone else what happened here, that`s not snitching. That`s being a good citizen -- and we need to get that message out. We've had murders of children in our community and nobody is being held responsible," Lewis said.

There's hope that taking action will result in fewer candles on the table next year.

"I don't want to be one of these parents sitting here that lost a child. Something has to happen, and it needs to start with us," Sostre said.

A $10,000 reward has been offered for information leading to an arrest in the Laylah Petersen case. Anyone with information in the shootings involving Petersen or Bill Thao are asked to  call police at (414) 935-7360.

Milwaukee police say compared to last year, homicides are down. By this date in 2013, 104 people had been killed.

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    • G Man

      Middle East to fight terrorist, North Korea or eventually Russia. Don’t provide them military benefits, just food, clothes and a tent. Front line for 20 years, if they survive then they can come back to the US and serve 15 years probation. Until the heads in charge start taking serious actions against punks all across this country, these types of crimes will continue. Do us all a favor and stop the rally cries for peace and start pursuading politicians to step up.

      • Semper Fidelis USMC

        I guess the military wants low information thugs to run millions of dollars of equipment, I think we lost the war, wow, really G Man, tough to disrespect our men and women serving.

      • soulobigdaddy

        “Don’t provide them military benefits, just food, clothes and a tent” really sad that you run your mouth and have no reading comprehension skills whatsoever semper. And G, I think it’s an excellent idea

  • Sweetie

    I like the concept, but lets be honest…this is the exact idea that was presented when Sierra was shot. What happened? Did the passion for this die with the publicity?

    • soulobigdaddy

      some of you people kill me with your nonsense. One minute you talk about “where’s the outrage”, then, when at least something is being done, you say “that won’t work”. All while sitting on your fat a$$ making comments and doing NOTHING

      • soulobigdaddy

        and much thanks for bringing to light the problem with robers. I had no idea. Those are the thugs that go around the neighborhood with robes on right?

  • Somethingtoconsider

    What is disheartening to me is where is the outrage and protesting for these innocent lives. It is like it happened and it is silent out there. What is wrong with this picture? Where are people’s priorities?

    • Reagan 84

      This is very disheartening!! I’m glad some members of the community care about ALL lives,not just black lives where the race card is played.

  • Reasonless

    I think that this is an excellent start.
    Community involvement is ever so lacking in these troubled areas.
    It won’t be an instant solution. Remember, it took several generations to get this bad, its not going to fix itself over night.
    However, we do need to start somewhere..
    Community involvement, harsher penalties, tougher judges…… We need to start somewhere.
    Raising our children with solid morals will impact the next generation. Eventually the current thugs will kill one another off in not caught first.

    • Reasonless

      The good people of Milwaukee still outnumber the bad.
      They just don’t know what to do about it, so they hide in and are prisoners of their own homes.
      Unity is the start.
      For those that talk down about this, I understand. It’s much easier to fold your arms across your chest and shake your head no than to roll up your sleeves and to try to be a solution to the problem. And tomorrow or next week when there’s another death, you can hide behind your keyboards and preach how it didn’t work.
      Again, it took several generations for Milwaukee to get this bad, and its not going to change overnight. However, it can change one little bit at a time, with an occasional setback.

  • Armand

    I live on Brady Street. A drug felon moved into my building 8 weeks ago. Cops have been here 6 times. He is gone tomorrow. When landlords care who they rent to and people call the police on their criminal, thug neighbors, their streets will be cleaner.
    Or you can sit back and live with animals.
    My rent is $900 a month plus an extra $100 to park a block away. My black coworkers brag how big their nouses are and they pay only $450 a month.
    You could give me free housing for a year and I would never live in the core….ever!

  • wtf

    armand that is like reverse discrimination…it is a sad fact with entitlements..the lack of work ethic now days, and the mentality that “a lifestyle is owed without working for it” people that survive , thrive and demand “freebies” and increased entitlements are in fact in slavery and bound by their dependency on the government programs and subsidies.. true independence is education, self respect, self responsibility, accountability for ones choices and actions..until an entire mnidset is changed…the struggles, crimes..deaths …unfortunately I guess will continue..you can’t help those who wopn’t take responsiblity and help and change within themselves

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