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Owner of BP Gas Station torched during Sherman Park unrest has plans to rebuild

CBS 58 News is speaking with key figures in the aftermath of the shooting of Sylville Smith.

Sylville Smith's death set off two days of violent unrest in Milwaukee's Sherman Park Neighborhood.

Some of the most alarming video that weekend was of the BP Gas Station engulfed in flames.

It sits on the corner of Sherman and Burleigh and has yet to be rebuilt, serving as a constant reminder of the violence. But, that could change. The owner says he has plans to rebuild.

He's been waiting nearly a year and the city hasn't issued him a new permit to rebuild. Pakhar Singh is the owner and he says that night, he tried every route to get his employees and couldn't. They were trapped behind the store glass as the crowds grew and the tension swelled.

Less than a month before the Sherman Park Unrest, one of Singh's employees fired a gun into the air saying he feared for his safety. That led to a week of protests which ultimately ended in peace.

"When we talk about Sherman park, everyone wants to discuss brick and mortar, as if that's symbolized by a gas station or liquor store. Really what we should be discussing is the rebuilding of relationships, the rebuilding of moral, the rebuilding of hope that's what's most important, those are the things we really need to see, not only in Sherman Park," said Alderman Khalif Rainey. 

Singh wanted to expand, but Rainey says community members didn't. So, he's rebuilding - the same gas station in the same spot.

"It will look better than before."

Singh isn't the only business choosing to come back.

BMO Harris has committed and is building a community center in place of the damaged bank. Jet Beauty Supply has been open for months. 

"It's a certain standard we anticipate businesses in our neighborhood will adhere to. We believe these businesses in our neighborhood can do an awful lot with improving our neighborhood," said Ald. Rainey.

Singh says for him, his gas station is his life. He will be adding more security to the gas station. There will be a guard and more cameras than the 16 that were already in place. He says rebuilding should cost around $700,000 and construction should start a few weeks after he gets a new permit. 


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