MILWAUKEE — A group of grassroots voices seeking an end to gun violence in their communities met this weekend to share their stories of loss and pain.
MacCanon Brown Homeless Sanctuary organized the End Gun Violence Speakout on the grounds of the sanctuary at 24th and Center, in the 52306 zip code.
Antonetta Smith was shot in the head while she sat on her porch at home, although she wasn't the target. The stray bullet left her with brain damage, she told the crowd gathered outside MacCanon Brown.
Another speaker, who like Smith is at-risk of becoming homeless, wasn't shot, but was the one who pulled the trigger.
Tonnie Lee Griffin said he did 15 years for shooting and killing a man back when he was a teen robbing drug dealers. He said now, an old man, he's just barely getting by on social security.
He warned young kids against his path in life.
"When you could have a good job, a nice wife, a nice home. But you don't want that. because you got that gun in your hand," said Griffin.
Sr. MacCanon Brown said many of the people who come to her shelter and live in the 53206 are frustrated, desperate and feel like society has forgotten about them.
"We need to reverse all of that," she said, hoping that if some people find community and dignity they may not turn toward violence.
Community organizers and elected leaders, including State Senator Lena Taylor, also spoke to raise awareness against gun violence.
The homeless sanctuary printed 1,000 buttons with a message to end gun violence that they handed out at the event and plan to spread throughout the neighborhood.