Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service

Fathers Pledge to Reduce Violence

With speeches by Ald. Hamilton and others, 500 Fathers United initiative urge a stand up against neighborhood violence.

By , Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service - Jun 26th, 2016 08:30 am
Between 150-200 men gathered for the kickoff of the “500 Fathers United Initiative” at Moody Park. Photo by Edgar Mendez.

Between 150-200 men gathered for the kickoff of the “500 Fathers United Initiative” at Moody Park. Photo by Edgar Mendez.

Dads are the key to deterring the violence plaguing many Milwaukee neighborhoods, according to organizers of the 500 Fathers United Initiative.

“As fathers, as men, we have to take a stronger stand against violence,” said Dennis Walton, co-director of the Milwaukee Fatherhood Initiative, speaking to those gathered at Moody Park for the launch of the initiative. ”You brothers are the foundation of our community,” he added.

The “Safe Summer Kick-off Celebration” was well attended by men, women and children who spent the warm evening dancing and singing, eating hot dogs and visiting one of many community resource booths set up outside the COA Goldin Center.

The rally featured speeches delivered by Walton and others, including several local legislators. They called on fathers to draw a “battle line in the sand” and stand up against perpetrators of violence in the city. Last year, 54 children were among the 633 victims of non-fatal shootings, in addition to 145 homicide victims, according to a Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission report. Other crimes including carjacking and car theft have been on the rise, according to law enforcement officials.

Brandon Brown (right), holding his 4-month-old-son Brandon Jr., chats with Dennis Walton (left), co-director of the Milwaukee Fatherhood Initiative. Photo by Edgar Mendez.

Brandon Brown (right), holding his 4-month-old-son Brandon Jr., chats with Dennis Walton (left), co-director of the Milwaukee Fatherhood Initiative. Photo by Edgar Mendez.

Among the speakers was Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton, who co-organized the rally and let those in attendance know that things are going to change.

“This isn’t some rhetoric or another failed attempt at changing this city,” shouted Hamilton. “We need you to stand up and take charge in your own communities and we are going to stand with you,” he added.

The urgent call to action was echoed by many in the crowd, including Brandon Brown, who attended the rally with his 2-year-old daughter Kamariya, 4-month-old-son, Brandon Jr., and their mother, Chapayl Parker.

Brown grew up on Milwaukee’s North Side and said he attended the event because he is tired of all the violence in the neighborhood and wants to see change.

“I grew up here and want my kids to grow up here,” Brown said. “I don’t want to have to move them to the suburbs so they can be safe.” Brown said it was also important for him to come with his family to dispel stereotypes about black fathers not being there for their children.

“There are plenty of us full-time dads out here doing the right thing and wanting better for the kids in our community,” Brown said.

Local hip-hop artists and fathers Lil Kal and Mackn said they attended the rally because they are worried about the impact of violence on children in the neighborhood.

“We live in this community, we got kids and we want to see it become safer for them,” said Kal.

Chris Webb, who teaches at Universal Academy School, 6850 N. 53rd St., said he and other staff from the school came to Moody Park to support an effort they hope will lead to kids having a safe summer.

“We don’t want to have to come back and bury any of our kids,” Webb said.

Alderman Khalif Rainey, who represents the 53206 ZIP code where Moody Park is located, asked each father to make a difference on his street.

“Pull one of the young men on your block aside and talk to him; be a mentor,” Rainey said. Rainey and other organizers said they were undeterred at not reaching their goal of drawing 500 fathers to the park. The more than 150 fathers in attendance are enough to spur change in Milwaukee, he said.

“We didn’t get 500, but we know this, it only takes one good man, and we got plenty,” said Rainey, drawing loud cheers from the crowd.

The starting point for that change begins at home, added Walton.

“We need to be a greater force in the lives of our children, so we don’t have 9-year-olds getting shot in the face and 12- and 13-year-olds playing real life Grand Theft Auto, Walton said.

The rally ended with a pledge. At its conclusion, the fathers repeated, “I will be an example of positivity for my children and I will take responsibility as a man, as a brother, and as a leader in the city of Milwaukee.”

This story was originally published by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, where you can find other stories reporting on fifteen city neighborhoods in Milwaukee.

One thought on “Fathers Pledge to Reduce Violence”

  1. Thank you for all of the hard work that went into the events bringing back black fatherhood to the forefront of the community’s agenda. We are tired of being the most segregated city in America. We acknowledge the solid data from The Sentencing Project that our absent fathers are in prison.

    The data below is from

    State Rate of Adult Black Male Imprisonment

    Vermont 1 in 14
    Oklahoma 1 in 15
    Iowa 1 in 17
    Delaware 1 in 18
    Connecticut 1 in 19
    Arizona 1 in 19
    Idaho 1 in 20
    Pennsylvania 1 in 20
    Louisiana 1 in 20
    Wisconsin 1 in 20

    A Truth and Reconciliation Commission requires all of us to face up to our collective past and acknowledge that violence continues by all parties and that the victims remain too many. Can we seek reconciliation through forgiveness and accountability? Can we hold our citizens responsible and keep them with their families so that another generation is not lost? I think we can. I think there is a city-wide will to think outside the box. Violence Reduction through recorded memories by and for Milwaukee’s Children is a demonstrable step toward reconciliation and forgiveness. The Truth and Reconciliation in Sierra Leone was produced a children’s version. Please check this out. When there is a will, we will find a way And for a more personal recorded recollection, please see.

    Thank you for allowing me to keep beating this drum until it is heard..

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