Victory Over Violence Park

The law firm of Lindner Law LLC., has contributed time and money to many community activities in a broad range of areas. One particular project close to the firm’s heart is the Victory Over Violence Park in Milwaukee’s central city. The site was once a nameless abandoned lot where the remnants of burned down buildings from the riots that occurred after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. had sat vacant for thirty years and had become one of the most dangerous and violent areas of the central city where numerous shootings, muggings and assaults were reported. Despite its unsavory history, the site at 2601 N. Martin Luther King Drive is now more of an oasis offering a pleasant respite and contemplative garden for neighbors, shoppers, people walking and biking by. The transformation shows that people and organizations can change things, if they are determined and if the community joins in.

Charles Hausmann, President of Lindner Law LLC., was particularly bothered that the site had sat vacant and unattended for three decades and that the owner, the City of Milwaukee, took no action to develop or rehabilitate the site in the mist of a major thoroughfare running north and south through Milwaukee’s central city. Over the years the site had become a gathering place for drug dealers and criminal activity. As an attorney with many central city clients, Hausmann had known several young men who had lost their lives in acts of senseless violence. He wanted to create a memorial to those young people and create a symbol of hope and beauty to the concept that a community could have- Victory Over Violence. The park was to be a line in the sand, a statement that violence had to stop and that positive trumped negative.

Victory Over Violence Volunteers

Joined by Jeanetta Robinson, head of Career Youth Development (CYD) who herself had lost a daughter and granddaughter to a violent murder and whose offices are adjacent to the park, Hausmann began to assemble the resources needed to clear and then transform the area. Many people and organizations stepped up to help. Hundreds of volunteers showed up to clean, clear, cut trees, haul trash, weed and eventually to lay bricks and plant flowers and shrubs. Hausmann’s drive combined with Robinson’s connections and community involvement helped move things along.

A working volunteer in front of the mural.

Key to the initial project was renowned landscape Architect Robert Greaves, who had done site planning for a dozen golf courses and Northridge, Southridge and Brookfield Square shopping malls among hundreds of projects throughout the United States. He agreed to be site architect for the park late in his career, believing it could be a lasting monument and a legacy to his career. He also said he took it on because Hausmann guaranteed “… he would go to heaven if he did.” Greaves passed away collecting on his guarantee of eternity in heaven. People from the neighborhood, from CYD, from Marquette University, from the Milwaukee Community Service Corps, union brick layers and iron workers, hundreds of volunteers got their hands dirty on the project over the many years that the project took to build. Women prisoners from the Wisconsin State Prison were allowed to work on weekends to work on the project. Private businesses like Stein Gardens & Gifts gave plants and many others donated time, effort and plants. And of course, members of the Lindner Law LLC., joined in during the entire project. Who says a personal injury attorney can’t handle a pruning saw?

Charles Hausmann Founder of the park, with Robert Greaves the parks Landscape Architect

It took over four years of work, much of it volunteer, much paid for by the firm and Hausmann himself. Even though the basic work was completed in the 1990s, things remain to be done. Almost every spring and summer weekend, you can find Hausmann and a team of workers weeding, cleaning or planting some area of the park. It is an ongoing battle against the forces of violence, reminders that nature and people need care and attention. Due to the tenacity of people who had the vision, there is now recognition that even the most knotty problems can be attacked and solved. The spirits of the youngsters who died violent deaths in the area can hover in a place that is immensely better than anyone thought it could ever be.