- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 5, 2002

MILWAUKEE (AP) The bloodshed began when a boy hit Charlie Young Jr. with an egg and he responded by punching a 14-year-old in the mouth and knocking out a tooth.

But in Milwaukee's rough Midtown neighborhood, lined with rusting cars and homes with broken windows, rotting wood and peeling paint, something like that does not go unanswered.

According to police, a mob of boys as young as 10 set upon Mr. Young and bludgeoned the 36-year-old man to death with broomsticks, folding chairs, a milk crate and even a stroller on a porch where he had tried to take shelter. One boy then dumped his blood-soaked shoes down a sewer grate, and another ran home because his mother was calling.

The attack last Sunday night has stunned the city and led authorities, parents and residents to wonder where they went wrong.

District Attorney E. Michael McCann said the overwhelming reaction is sorrow. "Sorrow for everybody. For the deceased, for the boys, for the community," he said. "These young men have written off their futures for decades."

The questions go beyond the boys: In criminal complaints charging eight teenagers and a 10-year-old with reckless homicide, police say at least two adults watched the youngsters arm themselves and wait for Mr. Young in an alley. None of the witnesses called police.

Erinn Payne, 22, who has lived in the neighborhood her whole life, said she saw the youngsters on the porch, attacking what she thought was an animal.

"Just to come home to trouble every night gets kind of tiresome," she said. "People are always fighting or arguing, there's always something going on."

The poverty rate for the area is 55 percent, more than triple the rate for the rest of the city. A block from the crime scene, homes with green gardens and brightly colored shutters are being built symbols of urban renewal that have not spread to the neighborhood.

"You can build as many projects as you want down here," resident Andre Newson said. "It's still not going to help the people in the neighborhood."

An editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Thursday called on city leaders to "do more than wring their hands. They must launch a campaign to reclaim from young thugs in the neighborhood."

Alderman Fred Gordon said the neighborhood hasn't seen a crime of this magnitude before and must not again. "We are not going to be cowed by this horrendous act," said Mr. Gordon, who represents Midtown. "We're going to have to step forward."

Mayor John Norquist said the children's families obviously failed them. None of their parents appeared for the boys' initial hearing, though most were in court for another appearance on Thursday.

"Let's get into the families in the neighborhood and make sure parents are doing what they need to do," Mr. Norquist said.

Charged as adults were Marlin A. Dixon, 14; his brother, Don Dixon, 13; Artieas Shanks, 13; Lee Mays, 16; his brother Kenny Mays, 13; Montreon Jordan, 15; and Devin Beamon, 16. The charge filed against them in Milwaukee County Circuit Court carries a prison term of up to 60 years.

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