Some Milwaukee residents are arming themselves with signs and cell phones in an effort to take back their neighborhoods and their streets from people who break the law.
Florence Burt and George Gage are standing on the corner of Capitol Drive and N 60th Street in the blistering heat, waving hand-made signs saying, "Stop Means Stop." Burt says she can no longer sit at home and complain about the reckless driving on the north side. Gauge agrees. He says he’s sick of drivers in his neighborhood doing whatever they please.
A dozen or so picketers spent last Friday afternoon reminding drivers of the rules of the road at that intersection. They’ve had several similar pickets, and they don’t intend to stop.
And they’re not the only group in Milwaukee taking matters into their own hands when it comes to improving their community. Friday afternoon another group will fan out on the north side, starting at Capitol and 76th Street, to take pictures and videos of drug deals they say are taking place in cars in their neighborhood. A media advisory from the group, calling itself simply “neighbors”, says people in the neighborhood want criminals to know they’re watching each other’s homes and business, and they’re watching them.
Gage hopes neighbors seeing neighbors stand up will get more people involved in neighborhood causes.
His particular concern, of course, is reckless driving. This week, the Milwaukee Police Department announced it would be putting more officers on the beat in neighborhoods dealing with increases in car thefts, crashes, and traffic violations, and they will be making more traffic stops.
Another citizen effort to make Milwaukee safer begins Friday afternoon in Moody Park. Milwaukee Common Council president Ashanti Hamilton has called for 500 fathers to show up at a Safe Summer Kickoff event starting at 3 p.m. Hamilton hopes those fathers will walk the streets of their neighborhoods at night, and that their presence will reduce crime across the city this summer.