LaToya Dennis

News Reporter

LaToya Dennis joined WUWM in October 2006 as a reporter / producer. LaToya began her career in public radio as a part-time reporter for WKAR AM/FM in East Lansing, Michigan. She worked as general assignment reporter for WKAR for one and a half years while working toward a master's degree in Journalism from Michigan State University. While at WKAR, she covered General Motors plant closings, city and state government, and education among other critical subjects.

Before coming to public radio, LaToya interned at the CBS affiliate in Lansing, Michigan. She also took part in NPR's 2005 Next Generation Radio Project in Kansas City, Missouri as well as NPR's summer 2006 Next Generation Radio Project in Indianapolis, Indiana.

LaToya holds both a Bachelor's degree and a Masters degree in journalism from Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan. Dennis is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Ways to Connect

Gov. Scott Walker
Alex Wong/Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court today will meet in closed session to decide whether to consider Wisconsin’s John Doe investigation. That secret probe was looking into whether Gov. Walker’s 2012 recall campaign broke campaign finance laws by illegally coordinating with outside advocacy groups.

The investigation began back in 2012 when Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisolm launched a probe into Gov. Walker’s recall campaign.

Groups in Milwaukee have called for the state or Milwaukee Police Department to release the police video that may have captured the fatal officer shooting of Sylville Smith in August. After completing his investigation last week, Attorney General Brad Schimel said the tape would not be released until the Milwaukee County D-A decides whether to charge the officer.

LaToya Dennis

MPD Sergeant Sheronda Grant talks about being a black police officer in Milwaukee, a minority-majority city, and during an era when police face a mix of harsh criticism and volatile situations. Grant is president of the League of Martin, an African American police association. She says the job can be especially stressful these days because what happens with police anywhere affects officers everywhere, yet she encourages young people to consider a career in law enforcement.

LaToya Dennis

Books in barbershops are rolling-out in Milwaukee. It’s an effort to help close the city’s black white student achievement gap – one of the highest in the country. Organizers say it’s not what you read, only that you read.

There are a lot of things you might expect to find at a barbershop. The buzz of clippers, conversations about politics or community happenings, but not a library, that is, until now.

LaToya Dennis

Sylville Smith, the African American man killed by a black police officer two weeks ago was laid to rest Friday.

Rev. Jesse Jackson traveled to Milwaukee to give the eulogy. Jackson said that while this funeral could not have been prevented, maybe others will. The only way that will happen, he said, is if people are given not only hope, but jobs.

Copyright 2016 Wisconsin Public Radio. To see more, visit Wisconsin Public Radio.

LaToya Dennis

Friday in Milwaukee, family and friends of Sylville Smith will lay him to rest. He’s the 23-year-old African American a police officer shot and killed on August 13 near the Sherman Park neighborhood.

In the hours following, anger reached a fever pitch as protestors set businesses on fire and attacked police. The city bolstered its force and imposed a 10 P.M. curfew for teens, and since things seem to have simmered.

But it might not last long if conditions don’t improve for struggling residents, according Jay Holmes and Camille Mays.

LaToya Dennis

Milwaukee leaders on Tuesday released a plan some believe will help curtail crime in the city.

Over the summer, the Common Council’s Public Safety Committee held special meetings with agencies that work to keep the community safe. Those included the Milwaukee Police Department, the state Department of Corrections and the Wisconsin Department of Health and Human Services. They were summoned after the city experienced a rash of certain crimes, including vehicles thefts.

ANDREW BURTON/GETTY IMAGES

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin announced on Monday that it would keep its abortion clinic in Appleton closed. The reason for this, the organization says, is domestic terrorism. While some abortion opponents denounce threats of violence, they’re glad the clinic won’t reopen.

There are two abortion providers in the state - Planned Parenthood and Affiliated Medical Services, which only operates in Milwaukee.

UPDATE: Sylville Smith was shot once in the chest and once in the arm, according to the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner. Those autopsy results seem to correspond with city leaders' account that Smith had turned toward the officer who fatally shot him. Police say the 23-year-old was armed and fleeing after a traffic stop.

LaToya Dennis

Some Wisconsin communities that have long relied on volunteer and part-time firefighters are now facing a shortage of people willing to help out. A legislative committee formed this summer to address the problem, but in the meantime, fire departments are doing what they can to make sure they're able to respond to emergencies.

Clifton Pharm wanted to explain to his five-year-old granddaughter Chanel what happened over the weekend in their Sherman Park neighborhood. So he took her hand and walked her past businesses that demonstrators set on fire and ransacked, following the fatal police shooting of a young black man. The grandfather remembers when his brother did the same for him, in the 1960s.

Pharm and Chanel started their walk on 36th and Fond du Lac, right across the street from the damaged BMO Harris bank building.

Michelle Maternowski

There are many theories as to how a neighborhood that used to be held up as a beacon of success has become ground zero for unrest.

Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood has seen a lot of changes over the years. It was once the heart of Milwaukee’s Jewish population and it was known for its manicured lawns and for being a close-knit community. While you can still find some of those attributes in Sherman Park, Clifton Pharm says he’s watched things spiral downwards over the last couple of decades.

Steve Pope/Getty Images

The Trump campaign is looking to gain ground in Wisconsin. Earlier this week, the Marquette Poll showed the Republican presidential candidate trailing Secretary Clinton by 15 points among likely voters.

At a rally in Milwaukee on Thursday, Trump's running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, told supporters that the U.S. cannot afford four more years of the same failed policies.

LaToya Dennis

State Representative Mandela Barnes lost his bid to represent Milwaukee’s sixth senate district in the Legislature. The loss means Barnes is now looking for a new job.

Assemblyman Mandela Barnes was up for reelection, but he decided to forego running and instead challenge fellow Democrat Lena Taylor for her senate seat. Tuesday’s primary wasn’t close – he lost. Still, Barnes told the crowd at his party that the fight for public safety, education and a stronger economy are not over. 

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