Bus Stop Murals Tell Story of Gun Violence
Voices of Gun Violence seek to raise awareness of how gun violence impacts Milwaukee community.
A community organization has partnered with local universities to sponsor murals in Milwaukee County Transit System bus shelters that seek to raise awareness of gun violence and its impact on the Milwaukee community.
What’s more, the murals are creating a public venue for accessing an oral history project called Voices of Gun Violence. The murals depict both victims of gun violence and those who have lost loved ones, family and friends to gun violence. At the bottom of the mural are QR Codes that, if scanned, will take the scanner to an interview with someone whose life has been impacted by gun violence.
This archive of stories is largely produced by faculty and staff from UW-Milwaukee and in collaboration with Mothers Against Gun Violence and Carroll University professor of Public Health Barbara Beck-Clayton.
Melody Villanueva lost her son to gun violence and she is represented on one of the murals. She spoke for Mothers Against Gun Violence founder Debra Gillispie, who was having trouble speaking due to allergies, at a press conference announcing the new murals Monday.
“Debra has been a rock in my life, motivating me to keep my son in my spirit and bring awareness to gun violence in Milwaukee and around the country,” Villanueva said.
Leslie Harris, an associate professor in UW-Milwaukee’s Department of Communication, works on the Voices of Gun Violence Project. She said, “Gun violence impacts people for years and in profound ways that don’t end when the news cameras leave.”
The project is intended to give the people living with this pain a voice, said Beck-Clayton.
One of these voices is Collette Shumpert, who lost her son to gun violence. “In December 2012, I got a call that no parent wants to get.” She explained that the call “created in my mind and in my spirit something that would be profoundly true.” That was the realization that she would never be able to see him again, or tell him that she loves him.
She said her son had a one year old child, who will live without getting to know his father, and two siblings “who struggled with coping with how to live life, without their older brother.”
Shumpert noted that shootings and murders are a regular feature of the news in Milwaukee. “It changes drastically the family structure,” she said. “It can leave a sense of hopelessness and “a great” need for “grief and healing.”
She said the mural project functions as a memorial for the loved ones lost and the family members who live on with the pain. “It’s a reminder that we cannot heal from what we don’t look at.”