Milwaukee homicides down a bit, but those connected to domestic violence remain sizable
The number of homicides in Milwaukee so far this year is down from last year at this time. But the current tally of about 160 continues a four year surge of killings in the city.
An advocate for families affected by domestic violence says about one quarter of Milwaukee murders are related to domestic abuse cases. Carmen Pitre heads the Sojourner Family Peace Center:
"I think we're on track to hit the low forties again. A bad year prior to COVID was 25. That was unheard of. We were hovering in my career around 15. One death is way too many. We need to remember that. But we're far and above where we should be as a city in terms of lethality," Pitre said Wednesday at a City Hall news conference.
Pitre said many non-fatal shootings are also linked to domestic violence. Then there's the mental abuse of being threatened with use of a gun. Pitre said abuse survivors have told her difficult stories.
"'The gun is taken out in every argument. Or, I tell you, I'm going to shoot you. Or, I'm going to shoot the kids. Or, I bring the gun out to show you.' So, survivors will say they live in a cycle of terror. People should not be living in that state of terror. We have a responsibility to change that," Pitre said after the news conference.
Pitre said a bill being circulated in Madison would close a legal loophole opened by a State Supreme Court ruling last year. The measure would ban people convicted of disorderly conduct stemming from domestic violence from lawfully possessing a gun or ammunition. That would put Wisconsin in step with federal law. Democrats have authored the state bill and report one Republican co-sponsor.
During Wednesday's news conference, Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson signed a resolution unanimously approved by the Common Council. The resolution directs city lobbyists to support passage of the domestic violence legislation.