Kennington Avenue

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

This violence touches us all

We are 7 months into a new year and already in Milwaukee we are approaching 300 people being wounded through gun-violence. In one weekend in Chicago 82 individuals were wounded from gun violence and 14 of those individuals died. A young 10 year old girl, Sierra Guyton has caught our hearts and filled our prayers and emotions for the last two months, having been shot in the head by two men who began firing at each other over some slight. I could not help but be drawn to a story in the Milwaukee Journal that was describing a vigil being held by the community in memory of Sierra. A 55 year old man who grew up in the neighborhood of Clarke Street School and who along the way had had his share of problems with the judicial system who came back for that vigil. He sat on the porch with a 90 year old woman who was the mainstay in the community. She knew him as did everyone in the community. She was an elder who was respected by the community. Mr. G. would sit on this woman’s porch holding her hand as both of them were trying to make sense of what had happened to us as a people and as a community. The writer of the article would offer a very powerful reflection: “Bullets fly through Mr. G’s world. Wounding, killing, wrecking. He is almost use to it. People and things get hit. But children, and old people, it is just wrong.” And yet we must not get used to this violence, not the kind of violence that leave our children dead in our streets or on our playgrounds. To turn a deaf ear or a blind eye makes us complicit in this travesty. We must take the blinders off and stand up, organize and take our neighborhoods and our streets back so that the children that we send out to play can do so in safety. A precious daughter has been taken from the Guyton family tonight. We pray for them as they cope with the hardest challenge that they will ever have to deal with. We pray for ourselves that we will find the resolve to hold on to what makes us human and will not allow anyone who is bent on acting less than human take our humanity from us or destroy our sense of freedom, safety and well-being.



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About the author

Ken Wheeler is a retired pastor. He most recently served at Cross Lutheran Church, an ELCA congregation in Milwaukee, where he is now the director of the Bread of Healing Empowerment Ministry. For 18 years he was as an assistant to the bishop of the Greater Milwaukee Synod of the ELCA.