Shock, disbelief, anger, sadness. But, most of all, inspired. And hopeful.
That is what I felt today as my father and I grabbed a couple paint brushes and headed to Kenosha, following the police shooting and unrest that followed in the last week.
The damage is significant, and you can see some of it in the photos that follow. But more significant is the overwhelming sense of community spirit we saw, as hundreds of people gathered Uptown and downtown for a combination street party, cleanup and mural painting event.
This is personal. My grandmother grew up in Kenosha, and in the late 1990s I lived blocks from Wednesday’s fatal shooting. I worked at the Kenosha News for several years, and remain connected with former colleagues.
My heart hurts for them and everyone impacted by the tragic events of the past week, and we need to hold accountable everyone who destroyed property and destroyed lives.
I’ll let stand the words I’ve written previously about the state of affairs in our country. In short, change must come. And it will come when we live out the words found on the plywood of boarded-up Kenosha businesses.
Matter is the minimum.
We did not give up on love today.
Hate can’t drive out hate; only love can.
Be the good.
Peace + love. Come together.
Together we stand.
In love we unite.
No space for injustice.
Peace be the journey. Be the change!!!
Let love bloom.
In a world full of hate, be a light.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Love is the answer.
Change will come with people doing exactly what we saw in Kenosha on Sunday, when a community of strangers came together to stand against violence and peacefully work for a better way.
In that way, South Milwaukee is Kenosha. We are all Kenosha. We are stronger, together. And from the ashes we rise.