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After Violent Weekend, Mayor Barrett Says Young Black Men Must Make Better Choices


This past weekend, 14 people were shot in Milwaukee. Mayor Tom Barrett calls the situation insane.

On Monday, the mayor pleaded with residents to help black young men make better decisions. They are often the victims – and the perpetrators of gun violence.

Mayor Barrett listed the shootings that occurred over the weekend.  

“At 12:17 a.m., a 33 year old black male was shot. At 12:22 a.m., we received word that a 16 year old black male had been shot. At 1:28 a.m., we received word that a 20 year old black male had been shot. At 3:20 a.m., we received word that another black male 20 years old had been shot. And at 8 a.m. this morning, we received word that a 33 year old black male had been shot,” Barrett says.

Three of the people caught in the crossfire were children, one only five months old.

In May, a 10-year-old girl was struck by gunfire while playing at Clarke Street Elementary School's playground and shootings overshadowed Milwaukee's 'Ceasefire Week.'

Barrett says the truth of the matter is that most these crimes involved young black men.

“We need to change the way the young people in this city think," Barrett says. "I want to change the decision making process of young men with access to guns. I need to change their decision-making and I need to change their access to guns. We need to get through to their hard heads before bullets do. Bullets kill."

Barrett unveiled a new hotline people can call to anonymously report people who may illegally possess a gun - 414-335-GUNS. He says he has also met with several agencies, including the District Attorney, the FBI and the Department of Corrections to coordinate plans to end violence. He says a lot of it is senseless.

“I’ll just give you the example of what happened on Memorial Day, where there were three shootings or three incidents," Barrett says. "One of them involved a card game, the other involved food that was spilled on steps in a flat, and the third was over a woman. Some of this is just…all of this is just insane."

Despite Barrett’s claims of having plans in place, both Aldermen Joe Davis and Bob Donovan have blasted the mayor for offering no real solutions. Donovan insists the city needs to put more police officers on the streets.

"Regarding the announcement yesterday of the mayor’s new guns hotline, I would like to point out that we used to have a hotline in Milwaukee -- it was called 9-1-1," Alderman Donovan says in a press release sent out Tuesday. "People used to call 9-1-1 and the cops would actually show up!"

According to Davis, the affected neighborhoods need jobs and for the city to address its poverty crisis.

"Unfortunately, some areas in the City of Milwaukee are out of control and there is no substance for a solution from the Mayor," Alderman Davis says in a release. "Residents are feeling empty. They say:  “I cut my grass, I pay my taxes, I participate in neighborhood meetings, and this is what I get?” My constituents in this area have borne the brunt of the negative statistics that surround the declining quality of life in Milwaukee. Black-on-black crime seems to be ignored, and I truly think we are becoming desensitized by the rampant escalation of recent incidents, which causes us to lose focus on the real possible culprit – a true lack of leadership by our CEO!"

North side resident David Bender says if there were more job opportunities, there might be less crime.

“More jobs for the young community and for anybody that’s out here struggling," he says. "We just, we just need more jobs."

LaToya was a reporter with WUWM from 2006 to 2021.
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