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Sherman Park neighborhood still recovering nearly 1 year after unrest: “We still have work to do”

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Jet Beauty

MILWAUKEE -- It's been nearly one year since rioting in Milwaukee's Sherman Park neighborhood damaged several businesses. The unrest was fueled by the fatal officer-involved shooting of Sylville Smith, and the outcome was days of violence.

On the night of August 13th, 2016 as a gas station at the corner of 43rd and Burleigh burned down, vandals also targeted Jet Beauty a few blocks away.

Unrest in Sherman Park neighborhood

"We never think it would happen," said Jackie Park, Jet Beauty store manager. 

The beauty supply store was one of several businesses damaged by arson and break-ins after the shooting death of Smith, who was shot and killed by former Milwaukee Police Officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown. He was found not guilty by a jury of reckless homicide during a trial in June.

"They took all the human hair," said Park, of the August 2016 break-ins.

Park said nearly a year later, she's on a mission to make the business better than before it was broken into and set on fire.

Jet Beauty

Park said when the looters came, they caused a lot of damage and stole a lot of products. The business was closed for six months while they restocked and worked to reopen.

"A lot of my customers have come back," said Park. "We've been doing really good business."

Jet Beauty reopened in December, and Park said steadily, customers are returning. Her business is across the street from the BMO Harris Bank branch which was also targeted last summer.

"It's a big part of the community and I don't want to see any of this going away. I think we still have a lot of work to do," said Talara Powell.

Sherman Phoenix Developers wants to renovate the former bank branch near W. Fond du Lac Avenue and 36th Street. The plan is to create an entrepreneurial hub for up to 12 small businesses.

Powell said if progress is measured by businesses reopening, then the area around Sherman Park has largely endured.

"I do see improvement. I'm glad we can get businesses back in the community," said Powell.

However, the BP gas station that faced the brunt of the damage shows some wounds take more time to heal than others.

A 17-year-old was later charged for burglarizing Jet Beauty and several other Sherman Park businesses. However, he was not a suspect in the arson.


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