Second annual "Heal the Hood" block party brings neighbors together

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The second annual "Heal the Hood" block party was held Sunday, May 26th on Milwaukee's north side. Organizers say the block party is an attempt to bring unity to the city's most crime-ridden neighborhoods.

The event was something of a mini street festival, with music, vendors and food on the grill. However, it wasn't just about having fun on Memorial Day Weekend.

"The goal is to see a brighter future for the youth. We talk about the disparities we face in the community, but a lot of the times, we don't do nothing about the disparities in our community," organizer Ajamou Butler said.

Butler launched the event last year. In an effort to bring peace to neighborhoods overrun with crime, he is working to convince those who live in Milwaukee's roughest neighborhoods to love themselves.

"We living in a time, in conditions, where the psycological self-hatred that runs rampant in our community is what intensifies the violence and the poverty in our community," Butler said.

The setting for this year's block party was the corner of 9th and Ring. Just hours before the event, police responded to a shooting seven blocks away, where two people were injured.

"The fact that something happened a few blocks away from here makes events like this that much more significant and we're trying to reach people who may not ordinarily get reached," Alderwoman Milele Coggs said.

Coggs says the "Heal the Hood" event is more than just a block party. She says groups are constantly working to beautify crime-ridden neighborhoods -- one example being a community garden near 9th and Ring.

"My hope is neighbors will get to know each other a little bit better and speak out more about this issues that are facing them and what they wanna see done to change things," Coggs said.

Butler says in addition to the garden, "Heal the Hood" wants to buy abandoned properties and rehabilitate them.