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Violence prevention efforts increase in Milwaukee as homicide totals exceed 2021 pace

Grey house with a woman on the right corner of the image looking.
Chuck Quirmbach
An outreach worker for 414Life approaches a home on N. 21st. in Milwaukee as Arnitta Holliman (far right) of the Office of Violence Prevention looks on.

Milwaukee is a step closer toward a sizable expansion in its violence prevention efforts.

Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson signed a city document formally accepting $8 million in federal money that the state of Wisconsin has steered to the city. Various programs will aim at shrinking the surge in killings that has left at least 29 people dead in Milwaukee so far this year. That's 15 more than last year at this time.

Milwaukee set homicide records in both 2020 and 2021.

City officials showed off some existing violence prevention efforts Wednesday. Along N. 20th St., just north of North Ave., the outreach group 414Life left brochures at homes.

A worker named Amanda spoke with one woman who looked on from an upstairs window. "It's just phone numbers, sweetie, OK? OK, thank you so much. Our number is on the back. You good up there? You safe? OK, good, thank you," Amanda said, as the woman thanked her.

The tour also included the 2500 block of N. 21st St., where six people were shot to death inside a home last month in a case that is so far unsolved.

On that block, Arnitta Holliman, director of the city's Office of Violence Prevention (OVP) explained that the $8 million, plus $3 million recently allocated by the city, will expand programs including 414Life.

"They've been in the area 50 times. This isn't a first touch. But it enables us to expand the 414Life Team, the OVP team. There'll be some crisis response healing that will be done," she said.

Holliman said her office will also be requesting proposals for initiatives aimed at reducing suicides, sexual assault and reckless driving, and for more youth engagement. She promised collaboration with neighborhood groups and community organizations.

But Holliman told WUWM that she also hopes for residents joining in block by block. "Be it you connecting with organizations that are on the ground doing work, having conversations with family and friends, advocating for policy change," she said.

Other 414Life outreach workers, including Stephen Hopkins (green jacket) prepare to visit homes in the 2500 block of N. 21st St.
Chuck Quirmbach
Other 414Life outreach workers, including Stephen Hopkins (in green jacket), prepare to visit homes in the 2500 block of N. 21st St.

An outreach supervisor with 414Life, Stephen Hopkins, said he remains hopeful of change, partly due to community fatigue with the current situation.

"Well, to be honest with you, the people that live in this neighborhood, even if they live here a long time, everybody's tired of it, you know? No matter what side of the gun you're on, everybody's tired of it, cause everyone's affected by it," Hopkins said before his team left for another neighborhood.

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