MILWAUKEE – For over a century, All Saints Catholic Church has been a community anchor for Milwaukee’s Garden Homes neighborhood. Today, it lived up to that moniker, welcome in members of the city and Milwaukee County who’ve tragically lost a loved one to road violence.
A statue of the Virgin Mary outside the church reads “Our Lady of Grace, Pray For Us”, as inside dozens prayed for an end to a litany of road rage, reckless driving, and vehicular manslaughter that has plagued the city and surrounding area for years.
After a reading of the first names of each person killed on city streets this year, community leaders spoke to those gathered at the church, including Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson. He, along with Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley, issued a proclamation making today a city and county-wide day of reflection as the region continues its fight against reckless driving.
The ceremony came a day after a fatal crash down the road at Capitol and Appleton took the life of a 40-year-old driver.
Also in attendance was Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman, less than two weeks removed from his own vehicle accident involving a dump truck whose brakes failed. Norman said he was feeling fine, though still sore, and delivered a message of understanding to those in mourning.
“On behalf of the Milwaukee Police Department, we see you, we are hurting alongside you, and we offer our condolences for the loss of your loved ones.” Norman told WTMJ Sunday. “But also we are working diligently every day, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to be able to have an impact on making our city safer…we need everyone to be part of this effort.”
The concept of the community policing itself was part of Norman’s overall message at the podium, during which he called upon those gathered to reflect not just on those lost, but on times when they themselves had taken part in bad road behaviors. “We need to be honest with ourselves, don’t act like it’s someone else’s fault when we have some of those contributing behaviors of driving too fast to work, or going through that red light.”
As the church choir sang “The Storm Is Passing Over”, several seated in the pews shed tears, hoping that soon the storm will indeed pass over, and calmer heads will prevail on the streets and freeways of Milwaukee County.