MILWAUKEE — When he was 12-years-old, Servant Ventae Barrow Bey was caught in crossfire and shot in the left eye.
"That is the reason I lost my left eye," Bey said. "I'm only able to see out of my right eye."
He turned out to an anti-violence event at Coffee Makes You Black on Friday morning. He wanted to share his story so other people don't have to go through what he did.
"I've been going through that trauma from 12 to 44, because every time I hear something similar to a gunshot, I'm on edge," Bey said.
People got to hear from community activists, police and mental health advocates. Each addressed the rotes and potential solutions to violence.
Organizer Tynetta Jackson of Souls and Four Corners for Peace says she plans to host events like this all summer. The group especially is reaching out to youth.
Doctors at Children's Wisconsin are seeing an uptick of kids hurt by gunfire. It has Project Ujima, which provides those kids with resources and care more than a year after they are shot. The program serviced more than 500 families in 2021.
"We are in lock step with them, working on resiliency, working on conflict resolution, working on life skills," said Dr. Michael Levas.
Bey believes more people need mentors to put them on the right path.
"Look, I used to perpetuate these cycles you are perpetuating right now, so I know from experience they are crying for help," Bey said. "If you haven't been taught wholesome ways to express your emotions, then you will continue to express them in non-wholesome ways. It's not rocket science."