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Community Members Question Federal Charges Facing Activist Vaun Mayes

General Services Administration

The unrest in Milwaukee's Sherman Park neighborhood happened nearly two years ago, but a new court case has renewed public interest in the events of that time. Earlier this month, community activist Vaun Mayes was charged with planning to firebomb the District 7 Police Station, around the time of the unrest. 

Jabril Faraj and Isiah Holmes have been covering the case for MilwaukeeStories.org, a community-supported news organization focusing on the Milwaukee-area.  

Faraj says the charges came as a surprise to many in the community, both because of the nature of the allegations and the timing. He says there are a lot of questions about the evidence against Mayes, and why the federal government decided to charge him now. 

"Why did it take so long? Why is it two years later that this [charge] is coming down? The evidence that they have against Vaun is … some glass bottles in his home,” Faraj says. 

Two hearings were held at the beginning of the month for Mayes. The first was a preliminary bail hearing, which would have let Mayes out on bail with conditions. The federal government appealed that decision, citing Mayes’ alleged violent past, but the appeal was denied on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

Holmes was at the initial hearing, which he says was overflowing with people. He says, “There was a lot of resounding support [of Mayes] and suspicion of the charges.”

Joy is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.