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Community moving forward, three years after unrest in Sherman Park neighborhood

NOW: Community moving forward, three years after unrest in Sherman Park neighborhood

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The family of Sylville Smith, the man who was shot and killed by a former Milwaukee police officer, gathered in Sherman Park on the three year anniversary.

Smith's mother, Mildred Haynes, told CBS 58 it has been extremely difficult for them. "Lost without my son, my only son," she said.

Haynes now takes care of Smith's 5-year-old son who is named after him.

"I play mama, grandma, dad, uncle, auntie." 

The death of the 23-year-old sparked unrest in the Sherman Park neighborhood. Over three days, violence and chaos erupted. Several businesses, along with a BP gas station, were torched.

According to community activist Vaun Mayes, it wasn't just the shooting, but a build-up of a lot of things. "A lot of tension between the youth, the Boys & Girls Club, law enforcement and residents, including the gas station across the street," Mayes said.

Three years later, the community has moved forward. A building that was set on fire, now known as Sherman Phoenix, is home to nearly 30 businesses. It's a collaborative space where people can gather for food and events, giving small business owners the opportunity to thrive.

However, some say the problems within the community still exist. "That's all great and well, but the issues and the conditions in the community did not change," added Mayes.

As for Smith's family, they want people to know he wasn’t a bad person. “He was nice, caring loving...and a very good dad to his son."

Dominique Heaggan-Brown, the former officer who was charged for Smith’s death, was found not guilty.

He is serving time in jail for other charges.

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