Aisha Turner

Race & Ethnicity Reporter

Aisha Turner joined WUWM in 2017 as the station’s first Race and Ethnicity Reporter. She previously collaborated with the station on Precious Lives – an award-winning series about how gun violence impacts young people in Milwaukee.

An East Coast transplant, Aisha began her career in Washington, DC. She worked for the PBS NewsHour, starting as a desk assistant and moving up to the ranks of Reporter-Producer. She’s also done stints at Al Jazeera America and in local news. 

Aisha has covered a range of national and international affairs stories and has a special interest in human rights issues.

Outside of media, Aisha’s been engaged with international education. In the spring of 2017, she was a facilitator with the International Honors Program’s human rights course, during which she traveled with university students to Nepal, Jordan, and Chile. 

Aisha has a joint-MA in Global Studies from the Universities of Leipzig and Vienna. Her Master’s research included comparative approaches to diversity, social exclusion, and urbanization. She has a BA in Public Policy, Sociology, and Media Studies from Duke University.

Courtesy of Mario Drain

Born a few months apart, Mario Drain and his friends wound up with very different fates after committing armed robbery together in high school.

His friends were 17 and sentenced as adults. Mario was still 16. He was sent to the Running Rebels and put into the Intensive Monitoring Program.

Mario's case workers stayed on him -- they made sure he came to meetings, got involved in activities and showed up to school everyday. This alternative to incarceration worked.

Aisha Turner, Precious Lives

In August 2016, 23-year old Sylville Smith was shot by District 7 Officer Dominique Heaggan.

Officer Lawson Murrell was long-interested in improving the relationship between the police and the black community. He’s now the Milwaukee Police Department's District 7 Community Liaison Officer.

And at the memorial for Sylville Smith on 44th and Auer, he’s facing the first major test of his new role. And as a black police officer, he’s stuck in an especially tough position.

Mike De Sisti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

On August 13th, all eyes turned to Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood. Protesters jumped on police cars and set buildings on fire, outraged over the police shooting of Sylville Smith.

Michelle Maternowski

On Saturday, August 14th, a Milwaukee police officer shot and killed 23-year old Sylville Smith near the intersection of West Auer Avenue and North 44th Street.

The police department reported that Smith had a gun and refused to drop it. Details are still unfolding.

What we do understand is that in the Sherman Park neighborhood where this took place, tensions had been mounting for weeks.

Sylville’s death sparked peaceful protests, as well as violent unrest. Footage of buildings set aflame brought national attention to the Milwaukee and its struggles.

Michelle Maternowski

After a fatal police shooting near Milwaukee's Sherman Park neighborhood on Saturday, the area erupted into protests and chaos. For two consecutive nights, demonstrators took to the streets. Businesses were burned, people were injured, and Milwaukee's weekend of unrest made national headlines.

READ: WUWM's Complete Coverage of Milwaukee's Unrest

Photo courtesy of Jermaine Reed’s Facebook page

Black youth make up two-thirds of the kids in Milwaukee's foster care system.

This worries Jermaine Reed. He is determined to make foster care a more effective system -- especially for black youth.

He calls foster care an incubator for the criminal justice system.

Jermaine is the executive director of Fresh Start Family Services, Wisconsin’s first private placement agency run by an African American. He also hosts Fresh Start Today, a radio program on WNOV dedicated to educating the black community about child welfare.

John Klein / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Destiny Boone remembers her daughter Za'layia as a sassy, creative girl who loved to rap, write and help take care of her younger siblings.

Destiny is still wrapping her head around losing her nine-year-old daughter. Za’layia was the victim of a stray bullet that struck her during a shootout on May 5th, 2016.

As the family copes with the loss of a child, Destiny’s aunt, Ramona, is working to make sure Za’layia is never forgotten.

Photo courtesy of Beverley Moore

Beverley Moore grew up amid gun violence in the inner city. When she became a mom, she made the decision to move to the suburbs because she worried about her son's safety.

For the most part, Beverley has found what she was looking for: a sense of peace and relaxation.

But even now, guns are a fairly ubiquitous part of her life. Her friends have lost loved ones, her ex-husband’s job keeps him in close proximity to violence, and the families she works with in the foster care system are often impacted by gun violence.

Courtesy of the City of Milwaukee

Police aides Sergio Rivera and Jada Greer grew up skeptical of police officers, and in communities where they weren’t phased by gunfire.

And now, if they succeed in the police aide program, they might join a new class of officers who will be responding to violent scenarios around the city.

Precious Lives spoke with them about why they’re motivated to join the force, and what kinds of officers they would like to be.

Emily Forman / Precious Lives

On the evening of May 5, shots rang out between two rival groups on the 1500 block of West Meinecke Avenue in Milwaukee. After more than 40 rounds were fired, the only known victim was nine-year-old Za’Layia Jenkins.

She had been watching TV inside when the shots began. Za’layia was shot in the head and was declared brain dead a week and a half later, the day before her 10th birthday.

Courtesy of the Marshall Family

Laura Richard Marshall and Greg Marshall moved from the Village of Cheneque in Waukesha County to raise their family in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood nine years ago. This dismayed some of their acquaintances, who couldn't get beyond the neighborhood’s crime statistics.

From the outside, it is easy to paint Sherman Park neighborhood with a broad brush. In the first five months the Marshalls lived in their new neighborhood, there were five shootings within an eight block radius of their home.

Aisha Turner | Precious Lives

At the COA Goldin Center, there's now a portal that takes Milwaukeeans to Newark, New Jersey.

The portal is a gold shipping container equipped with high-speed, life-sized video conferencing. It uses technology to encourage intimate conversations with people across space.

Leaders here and in Newark are sharing experiences of, and trading solutions, to gun violence. An issue that weighs on both cities.

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