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Seniors Weigh In on Burst of Violence in Milwaukee's Central City

Marti Mikkelson
Patrons chat with each other at the Clinton Rose Senior Center.

There is great concern in Milwaukee about the explosion of violence that has occurred in the central city. Within a 48-hour period, seven people died, most from gunshots.

The streak began on Sunday, when someone gunned down the driver who accidentally hit and killed a toddler who had run into the street. Another bullet struck the toddler’s 15-year old brother.

Ethel Woods comes to the Clinton Rose Center three times a week to exercise and chat with friends. She says the latest round of gun violence has left her shaking her head in disbelief.

“I love my city but the people are just getting out of hand and it’s getting to be summer and I’m getting afraid. And, I shouldn’t be afraid to walk from my house to my car looking over my shoulder to see if anyone is coming after you. It’s sad,” Woods says.

Woods says she does what she can to foster peace. When new people move into her neighborhood, she introduces herself and emphasizes the importance of looking out for each other.

"We are outliving the young." - Ausbey Hardison

  Another person who says she no longer feels safe in her neighborhood is Stephanie Sow. She says she’s changed a few habits recently.

“You never know when you’re going to get robbed or anything. I’m scared to wear jewelry. I’ve got beautiful jewelry and I’m scared to wear it,” Sow says.

When Robert Clark sees something unusual happening on his block, he calls police. Clark says he also tries to serve as a good role model for his young relatives. “I constantly get the word to them that violence doesn’t solve anything and you need an education in this world,” Clark says.

Clark says he views the senior center as a safe place. So does Ausbey Hardison. He says he comes here nearly every day.

“I come up, I play a little pool and I’m by myself. I relax a little. There’s a lot of tension out there. There’s a lot of families, a lot of funerals. We’ve been going through a lot, not just the seniors passing but kids are killing each other. We’re outliving the young,” Hardison says.

Hardison says he’s come here today in particular to learn more about the beating death of a 63-year old man on the north side on Tuesday. Hardison thinks the victim is a friend of his who frequents the Clinton Rose Center.

Marti was a reporter with WUWM from 1999 to 2021.
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