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Real Neighborhoods Don’t Die

I was amazed at a random cannon-like blast while I sat visiting a friend who owns a home near 20th and Capital. She shrugged it off and said, “Girl, we hear that all the time.” That made me angry. 

On second thought, I hear them, too, from my redeveloping, near Downtown neighborhood, where the prostitutes and drug dealers are up earlier than my daughter taking the bus to school. 

I tell her to keep her head on swivel, don’t have both ear buds in at the same time and to keep her mean mug on. I hate to have to tell her that, but I feel it is important for her to look tough on these mean streets. Poor thing, I know I confuse her further when I say, “smile pretty,” when the bus finally makes it to her pricey, private school. 

When we are in the house, we are jarred more than ever before, by shooting sounds. I encourage her to “hit the deck,” and not run to the window to see what was going on. The sound puts chills inside my bones, each and every time now, because I know, someone, somewhere, likely just got shot.

My heart just aches for anyone who survives being attacked with a gun. The sheer horror, fear and pain must rival anything else. But I like guns – only those unloaded. Some are just magnificent pieces of craftwork, to be admired, collected. I dislike the simplicity of their use. Guns are created to stop the recipient dead in their tracks.

Loaded guns are most often unnecessary and usually bring about carnage, confusion and chaos. Again, the news, the news, the news. And the candidates – the politicians – don’t campaign from my neighborhood. So their rhetoric about fair wages, lower taxes and fair healthcare bounce off me. Their anger and angst toward one another mirrors the anger many who have guns (legal or illegal) possess toward themselves.

A week later, I am back at my friend’s house and though it is quiet now, she tells me stories of nights past – an abandoned car and a brief motorcycle police chase, the drug house right next door and the results of the cannon-like blast from a week ago. A man was dead, on a balcony, his shoed-foot hung over lifeless – untelling his story.

She’s matter of fact. I am annoyed. 

These days, I find myself waiting for the random bullet that promises to test my own personal stamina, my intestinal fortitude and my blood-clotting prowess. I mean, I am not, by far, a “street person,” but that is not a pre-requisite for getting shot these days. I am social. I like visiting friends and family, all over the city. Sadly, there are fewer lines that mark safe Milwaukee neighborhoods and it seems like that Ald. Donovan is on to something. 

When crime spikes in “other” neighborhoods, we see more police around…for a while. And then, when the latest drama wanes, squad cars will be harder to spot than a bookmobile.

Watching the news is of no comfort. They just capsulate all the “Wild West Woe,” beginning to brew in Wisconsin. Conceal and Carry? And bulletproof vests are illegal? So, I am supposed walk around the city vulnerable to the whim of a gun-toting maniac, with a grudge. And it is not going to get better, I am told.

A friend of mine told me, “just move.”

I marveled at her naiveté. Move? I live where I can afford to live. I can’t afford to live where there are no gunshots.





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