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Milwaukeeans Tout Black Love as a Means to End Violence

LaToya Dennis
Members of the Black Love Matters Movement convene during a march through a north side neighborhood

Black Lives Matter. The phrase has become a rallying cry across the U.S. among people upset about cases of police brutality against black men.

In Milwaukee, another movement is afoot. It aims to let people know that black love also matters.

One organizer of the Black Love movement is Shawn Muhammad. He’s better known in the community as Gat Turner – an emcee and spoken word artist.

“The string of recent events with gun violence and fighting and a lot of drama that’s going on in our community, we believe that that’s a result of self-hatred,” Muhammad says.

Last Saturday, he and about 30 people gathered at the corner of 27th and Burleigh. They didn’t come to hangout, but rather to walk through neighborhoods suffering from an alarming number of shootings and homicides.

Muhammad says that Milwaukee has already seen a surge in violence and summer hasn't yet hit. He says it's time to make their presence and spirit felt "so that maybe our presence and the love that we display to our people can curb some of what the community is expecting to happen on a day like this."

As the protestors for peace march through this low income, high crime community, they stop and talk to people who live there. Members hand out hugs and smiles and tell people they’re loved.

Rachel Campbell is one person spreading the message. “We need more love in our communities because that’s what we’re lacking. We’re lacking love from within ourselves as well as love from the outside,” she says.

Credit LaToya Dennis
Rachel Campbell spreads love and positivity by hugging people who live near 27th and Burleigh.

Campbell says the effects of growing up in environments that are not nurturing are obvious. The symptoms are crime and violence.

“We’re losing our babies more often than not. I feel that if we don’t do something now to get out here and at least show support to the people, provide resources to the people as much as we can, it doesn’t always have to be about finances, but we can teach about how to deal with stress or how to manage your stress or how to resolve conflicts because that’s the issue,” Campbell says.

Campbell says she’s the mother of a young black man, and she often worries that he won’t return home. She says this Black Love movement in Milwaukee is about improving the lives of youth.

Boys such as 14-year-old Miguel Ramirez. He’s Hispanic, not black, and has joined-in. “I’ve just been seeing so many things on the news and in the paper and I decided to join the community and do something about it. I’m tired of seeing the same things happen and happen. I’m tired of history repeating itself,” Ramirez says.

He plans to spread as much love as he can this summer.

Over the next 18 weeks, Black Love Matters will take to the street every Saturday in high crime areas. The goal is to create safe zones in neighborhoods not known for safety.

Credit LaToya Dennis
Miguel Ramirez and other members of the Black Love Matters Movement.

LaToya was a reporter with WUWM from 2006 to 2021.
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