LaToya Dennis

News Reporter

LaToya Dennis joined WUWM in October 2006 as a reporter / producer. LaToya began her career in public radio as a part-time reporter for WKAR AM/FM in East Lansing, Michigan. She worked as general assignment reporter for WKAR for one and a half years while working toward a master's degree in Journalism from Michigan State University. While at WKAR, she covered General Motors plant closings, city and state government, and education among other critical subjects.

Before coming to public radio, LaToya interned at the CBS affiliate in Lansing, Michigan. She also took part in NPR's 2005 Next Generation Radio Project in Kansas City, Missouri as well as NPR's summer 2006 Next Generation Radio Project in Indianapolis, Indiana.

LaToya holds both a Bachelor's degree and a Masters degree in journalism from Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan. Dennis is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Ways to Connect

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Updated at 7:24 p.m. CT 

Across Wisconsin, election clerks have mailed out more than 1.1 million absentee ballots ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election.

In Walworth County, at least one person received a ballot without enough postage to cover the cost of returning it. But Reid Magney, with the Wisconsin Elections Commission, says the postage issue shouldn’t be a problem.

“The post office will deliver your absentee ballot back to your clerk's office whether or not it has any postage on it,” Magney says. 

Lauren Sigfusson

Wisconsin is a hotbed of activity for COVID-19 right now. 

On Tuesday, the state recorded more than 2,300 cases and 17 more deaths, bringing the total to 1,300. At the beginning of the pandemic, Milwaukee County was leading the way in the number of cases, but that is not the case anymore. The majority of the spread is now being seen in other parts of the state.

Scott Olson / Getty Images

Across the country, states are now looking to Wisconsin as the coronavirus outbreak here worsens. 

Per capita, the state already has one of the highest infection rates in the country. On Monday, Wisconsin recorded a one-day positivity rate of about 22%. In other words, 22% of all people tested have the disease.

“Honestly, those are numbers that we never hoped would come to Wisconsin," says Dr. Ben Weston, the medical director for the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management.

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The people who work at big businesses and corporate jobs in the greater Milwaukee area are overwhelmingly white. Even before protests over racial inequity and social justice began months ago, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) had set out to increase Black and brown representation at Milwaukee-area corporations.

LaToya Dennis

Vice President Mike Pence made a campaign stop in Janesville, Wis., on Monday. It was the second time this month that he’d visited the state, with President Trump expected in Marathon County on Friday. 

As the crowd chanted four more years, Pence told supporters in a hotel ballroom that Wisconsin is a must win. 

“And the road to victory runs right through Wisconsin,” Pence says.

LaToya Dennis

Dozens of people rallied outside of Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha Thursday. 

That’s where Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden held an invitation-only conversation on how to heal the community. While it was taking place inside, outside the message was simple — Black Lives Matter and police reform is necessary. 

Screenshot / WUWM / Facebook

WUWM is partnering with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee PBS and the Milwaukee Public Library on an initiative we call Listen MKE. Its goal: help Milwaukee’s north side residents get the information they want and need. More specifically, we want to better understand what's most important to people who live in these Milwaukee neighborhoods and help fill information gaps.

Brandon Bell / Getty Images

For five consecutive days, people have taken to the streets in Kenosha to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake by a Kenosha police officer. Blake, who is Black, was shot in the back seven times. His family says he is paralyzed from the waist down.

Brandon Bell / Getty Images

Midday on Wednesday, Kenosha-area officials held a news conference to address the fatal shootings Tuesday night and the arson and vandalism that sprouted up in the city over the past few days.

“Violence in the community is not acceptable. Violence to property, violence to people, absolutely unacceptable. And it is up to us to make sure that that does not continue,” says Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian.

LaToya Dennis

The family of Jacob Blake wants to know how many more times people of color will have to endure the use of excessive force by officers before police are held accountable. 

Robin Marchant & Audrey C. Tiernan / Getty Images

For right now, neither rapper and producer Kanye West nor Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins will appear on the November 3 ballot for president in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission made the decision Thursday night in a meeting that spanned more than five hours. Kanye West and Howie Hawkins’ running mate Angela Walker are both African American. Republican election commissioner Robert Spindell accused the Democratic Party of Wisconsin of suppressing the Black vote by trying to keep West and Walker off the ballot.

Screenshot / Democratic National Convention

Wednesday marks day three of the Democratic National Convention.

One of the sessions focused on turning out the Spanish speaking vote. It’s a segment of the population that both Democrats and Republicans have deemed essential.

Wisconsin state Rep. and Milwaukee Alderwoman JoCasta Zamarripa opened the session, laying out why she believes President Trump does not deserve the Latino vote. 

LaToya Dennis

Republicans are working hard to turn out the vote in Wisconsin come Nov. 3. And President Donald Trump's reelection campaign is trying to stay in the spotlight here this week during the virtual Democratic National Convention, which originally was planned as an in-person event in Milwaukee.

Screenshot / Democratic National Convention

It’s the first day of the Democratic National Convention, originally expected to take place in person in Milwaukee. Now, numerous virtual events will unfold over the next four days.

The first was a virtual breakfast this morning for delegates, hosted by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. Delegates and others are making the case for the Joe Biden and Kamala Harris ticket by pointing to President Trump's handling of racial disparities and the coronavirus pandemic. 

MARK MAKELA / GETTY IMAGES

There are fewer than three months left until Americans head to the polls to vote for president. And the race in Wisconsin between Republican Donald Trump and Democratic hopeful Joe Biden is tight.

According to the latest Marquette Law School Poll, former Vice President Biden leads President Trump by about 5 percentage points among registered voters. However, Charles Franklin, the man behind the poll, says Biden shouldn’t feel too comfortable about the lead he has here. 

NUCCIO DINUZZO / GETTY IMAGES

Updated on Friday at 9:58 a.m. CT

An oversight board demoted Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales on Thursday after questioning how he handled multiple incidents, including ordering officers to fire tear gas and pepper spray at protesters demonstrating over George Floyd’s death.

The city’s Fire and Police Commission unanimously voted Thursday evening to demote Morales to captain after three-and-a-half years on the job.

LaToya Dennis

Hospitals have been some of the places hit hardest by COVID-19.

For months now, doctors, nurses and other staff have been working to save the lives of patients sickened by the coronavirus while also keeping themselves safe. A group of Milwaukee-area musicians has been offering comfort by providing hospital workers a way to escape — if only for a few minutes. 

Screenshot / WISCONSIN DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SERVICES / YOUTUBE

Updated Friday at 11:18 a.m. CT

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Thursday issued a statewide mask mandate amid a spike in coronavirus cases, setting up a conflict with Republican legislative leaders and some conservatives who oppose such a requirement and successfully sued to kill the governor's safer-at-home order.

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There are still a number of unknowns when it comes to federal agents being sent to Milwaukee. When will they arrive? How long will they be here? How many agents are we talking about? 

The deployment of those agents to Milwaukee was the subject of a special Milwaukee Common Council Public Safety and Health Committee meeting on Monday.

Latoya Dennis

For nearly 60 consecutive days there have been protests in Milwaukee pushing for Black lives to matter here. At many, young people are center stage.

In light of these protests, WUWM’s LaToya Dennis spoke with young organizers Isabella Busby, Christopher Washington and Malania Moore on Facebook Live. It's the latest installment of Listen MKE — a partnership between WUWM, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee PBS and the Milwaukee Public Library. Its goal: help Milwaukee’s north side residents get the information they want and need. 

Lauren Sigfusson

Both the state of Wisconsin and Milwaukee County are seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases. Starting Thursday, masks are required to be worn in the city of Milwaukee. Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic authored the ordinance and says that the goal is not to be punitive but to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

We spoke with Dimitrijevic to help answer some questions about the mask ordinance.

Where are masks mandatory?

Courtesy of Sean Lowe

It’s been about a year since the city of Wauwatosa created its Equity and Inclusion Commission.

The goal of the advisory group is to advise the mayor and common council on ways to promote a positive environment for people of color who live and visit the city. In the wake of George Floyd's killing in Minneapolis, the commission is getting more attention.

To Sean Lowe, the commission's chairman, racial equity looks like reform on many levels. 

Scott Olson / Getty Images

The Milwaukee Common Council Health and Public Safety Committee on Thursday approved an ordinance to require masks whenever an individual is in public.

The ordinance, now headed to the full council, was introduced by Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic. She says she was spurred into action thinking about her son and his safety. She says the fact that Wisconsin set another single-day high with 754 cases reported on Thursday is troubling. 

Screenshot / Milwaukee County

Over the past four months, lots of systems in Wisconsin have had to adapt due to the coronavirus pandemic. That includes the state court system, which was forced to halt jury trials and move most other business online.

Before the shutdown, lots of people had never heard of Zoom. Now, the video conferencing platform has become a part of our daily lives — including for some court hearings. They’re being held as Zoom meetings, which are broadcast live on YouTube.

CHICCODODIFC / FOTOLIA

The head of Milwaukee's Fire and Police Commission is resigning. 

On Tuesday, the Milwaukee Common Council was expected to take up Griselda Aldrete’s continued appointment as executive director of the commission. Instead, she has withdrawn her name. 

In her letter to the mayor, common council, and Fire and Police Commission members, Aldrete says that while removing her name from consideration is a difficult decision, it is also the right decision. 

Lauren Sigfusson / WUWM

The Milwaukee Common Council's Public Safety and Health Committee is urging the Fire and Police Commission to adopt a number of changes in police procedures and recruitment efforts.

At Thursday’s special meeting, Alderman Khalif Rainey said he wants Milwaukee police to be required to report every time they pull their gun, mace or taser while on duty. Under Rainey’s proposal, officers would also have to report where the incident occurred.

LaToya Dennis

If you’ve witnessed the protests around Milwaukee in the wake of George Floyd being killed by a now-former Minneapolis police officer, you may have noticed something: young people are a fixture.

On Tuesday, some of those young people set out to march from Milwaukee to Madison.

Before the start of the kickoff event, late rapper Tupac Shakur’s song "Keep Your Head Up" blared from speakers as the young people got their backdrop of signs ready. Those signs said things like “no justice, no peace" and "Black trans lives matter" and "no police welcome here.”

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden has an eight-point lead over President Donald Trump among registered voters in Wisconsin. That’s according to a new Marquette University Law School Poll released on Wednesday.

This is up from the May Marquette poll, where 46% of voters supported Biden and 43% supported Trump.

LaToya Dennis

Today marks day 26 that Milwaukeean’s are planning protests over police brutality against Black people. The protests kicked off after George Floyd, an unarmed Black man in Minnesota, was killed by a Minneapolis police officer who applied pressure to the back of Floyd’s neck with his knee. 

Courtesy of Ameera Pearsall

Shortly before the nation learned the names of George Floyd, a black man in Minnesota killed by a white police officer, and Breonna Taylor, a black woman in Kentucky also killed by police, there was Ahmaud Arbery

Video of his killing surfaced months after it happened and was met with anger and hurt. The video shows Arbery being chased and gunned down by two white men who have both been charged. The man who shot the video has also been charged. 

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