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Violence growth in Milwaukee is not 'a tale of two cities,' says mayor

Maayan Silver
On Wednesday, Mayor Cavalier Johnson said the violence is top of mind.

To date in 2022—there has been a 24% increase in homicides in the city of Milwaukee, compared to two years ago. Non-fatal shootings and reckless driving also remain a problem. More than 200 people have been killed in the city by reckless drivingsince the beginning of the pandemic.

On Wednesday, Mayor Cavalier Johnson said the violence is top of mind. “Obviously, we're working with our partners in the police department, we're putting new energy in the Office of Violence Prevention,” he says. “And we're engaging in preventative efforts as well, especially around some of our youngest residents in Milwaukee.”

Johnson says he will meet with police chief Jeffrey Norman on Thursday. But he says it’s going to take more than the police chief, mayor and other city leaders working on this.

Johnson says state legislators will also have to take action, as the city faces an impending pension crisis that could gut city services.

“Look, if [state legislators] want to see more police and more core city services be delivered altogether—I want to do that. I want to be their partner,” says Johnson. “But I'm going to have a real hard and difficult challenge to do that if I don't have the revenues in order to make that happen.”

Johnson also points out that gun policy is determined at the state level.

The mayor made his comments when talking to the media after an event at the Milwaukee Art Museum. It was held to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Santiago Calatrava-designed Quadracci Pavillion.

A reporter asked Johnson if there was a disconnect between the violence happening across Milwaukee and the iconic Art Museum, which has grown to symbolize the city as an alluring destination. Johnson says no. He says there are positive developments happening across the city.

"I constantly, especially in situations like this, I'm talking about the fact and is a fact that there are great things happening in this city, each and every single day," says Johnson. "You can go to any neighborhood, from the far south side, all the way to the northwest side, from the west side to the east side, the Central City, North Central City South, and you will see wonderful things happening across this entire city. So yes, [the Quadracci Pavillion] is wonderful. But it doesn't take away from the fact that we have challenges in Milwaukee. I don't shy away from those. In fact, we're talking about those right now."

Johnson says it’s important the city recognizes both and builds upon one while addressing the other.

Maayan is a WUWM news reporter.
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