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Sherman Park remains calm after Dominque Heaggan-Brown verdict

Former officer found not guilty in fatal shooting
Posted at 5:41 AM, Jun 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-22 09:37:55-04

There was a heavy police presence in Sherman Park Wednesday night after a jury found former Milwaukee Police Officer Dominque Heaggan-Brown not guilty of first-degree reckless homicide, in the shooting death of Syville Smith.

Milwaukee County Sheriff’s deputies shut down the park early, but there was no violence. 

“We’re asking for no violence, no fires no riots,” said Frank Nitty, a community activist. “There’s a lot of tension between the police. Between white people. Between black people. We’re all looking at this stuff from different angles.”

Many in the crowd expressed their disappointment in the verdict.

“We’ve been trying to make strides on our own, but it’s hard to do with the current narrative,” says Gabriel Taylor, who leads Program the Parks, a non-profit that helps kids in Sherman Park. “The subtle, but not so subtle racism this city has an impact on how we feel and are treated here. Many in this community feel targeted. Like  we don’t really matter.”

Frustration escalated the night Sylville Smith was shot in killed back in August of 2016.

“We try to tell the kids we work with not to worry about things that they shouldn’t have to worry about, but it’s present. It’s real, and raw, and a part of reality,” Taylor said. “The police, the lack of resources, the lack of love and compassion, is very much felt by them. They don’t know how to take it, so they lash out at each other and the community, and they’re called animals. Instead of people really looking at the root of the issue.”

“It was a scary night when the rioting happened here,” said Alice Van, who works at The Pasty Shop.

The Pasty Shop has been in business at Burleigh and Fond du Lac for 60 years. It’s right next to some of the buildings that were looted and set on fire.

“Right now, it’s about the community coming together to move forward,” Van says. 

Despite seeing so much negativity, Van believes there’s much more good.

“It's going to take not just me, not just you, but all of us pulling together to make a better Milwaukee,” Van said.