Looted beauty store reopens in Sherman Park

Posted at 7:08 PM, Dec 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-15 20:18:49-05

A Sherman Park business reopened the same day the officer involved in a shooting that sparked their neighborhood’s unrest was charged.

After several months, Jet Beauty in Sherman Park is open for business after looters destroyed their storefront.

Employees are happy that after months they finally have a reliable paycheck. As for the decision to charge former Milwaukee police officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown – they are neutral.

Instead the store feels like they were caught in the middle of a storm, and people’s anger was misdirected at them and other local businesses, including the O’Reilly’s Auto Parts, BMO Harris Bank, and a BP gas station.

Senator Lena Taylor represents the Sherman Park neighborhood, and like many is glad to hear that there are murder charges filed against former Milwaukee police officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown. Taylor says these charges help rebuild community-police relations, yet they do not erase a reality for the African-American community.

“It was an African-American officer and an African-American victim, however the truth of the matter is when you see, whether it’s a boy carrying a turkey running down the street, or a man who is licensed to carry, if when you see them - you see criminal. That needs to change.”

The NAACP in Milwaukee echoed Taylor’s opinion.

“This isn't just about Sylville Smith. This is about a culture in the police department that this police officer alluded to, that he could get away with anything. When you change that mentality within the police department, that's when justice prevails,” said Fred Royal.

To change that mentality, Taylor and other community members say the police department needs to work on cultural competency, de-escalation training, and curbside manners. 

The Sherman Park neighborhood association is housed where a lot of the violence unraveled - next to a BMO-Harris Bank branch and a beauty supply store that were looted in the days that followed Sylville Smith’s shooting. Executive Director Fred Curzan of the Sherman Park Community Association says charges are the first steps in the healing process.

“Some of these underlying issues still need to be addressed. Community relations, housing unemployment, resources for youth, so I think there has been some progress made in the last several months but there is still a lot to do,” said Curzan.