Following a violent weekend that saw 21 people shot just blocks from the Fiserv Forum on Friday, Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson and local leaders are reportedly discussing a variety of solutions aimed at stemming the tide of gun violence across the city.
Jeff Fleming, a spokesman for the mayor’s office, said Johnson was slated to be part of several meetings -- including separately with police, downtown business leaders, and members of the city’s Office of Violence Prevention -- on Monday to discuss the shootings. In addition to Friday’s shootings, including one incident that saw 17 people shot, there were shootings overnight on Saturday that saw two people killed. Those shootings occurred in the 1400 block of North 17th Street and 1900 block of West Lincoln Avenue.
Fleming added that “additional strategies” for curbing gun violence were being considered, some of which could be implemented in the coming days.
“This is not just about downtown. This is about anywhere violence is happening,” Fleming said. “Obviously with 17 people shot downtown, if that had happened anywhere else in the city, we would have the same reaction. The mayor is focused on eliminating illegal activity, whether it is disorderly conduct or gun violence. It is of enormous concern to business people where this violence is taking place, and it is of enormous concern to mayor.”
Restaurateur Omar Shaikh was just one of several Milwaukee business people who took to Twitter and other social media platforms to express his dismay over Friday night’s violence.
“Already home for the night as sleep wasn't great last night. I love this city and will do anything to move us forward. I'd be lying if I didn't say last night broke my heart. I hope us leaders can come together for effective and swift solutions,” Shaikh tweeted Saturday night.
Reached Monday, the owner of the popular Carnevor and a partner in various other ventures downtown, including the 3rd Street Market Hall at The Avenue, Shaikh called the violence heartbreaking and said the city needs to look at long-term solutions that will help youth in the city who feel lost and see themselves as having no future.
Immediate solutions for stemming disorderly or violent behavior in the downtown entertainment district should probably involve a greater law enforcement presence in the area, he said.
“(This area) has the least amount of the cops of any district in the city,” Shaikh said. “We’re 3 percent of the land in the city and 25 percent of the tax base, so I think getting more police in the district is definitely a short-term solution.”
In a statement issued Saturday, Beth Weirick, CEO of Milwaukee’s Downtown BID, said the BID members are partners were looking at options for making the district safer.
“We are all shaken over the senseless acts of crime that are occurring not only in our great city, but across the country. Investing in initiatives that create a safe and vibrant city are vital to our economic stability and growth,” Weir wrote. “Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21 along with many other partners in both the public and private sectors have been working diligently to identify options and actions that create a safe and vibrant community citywide, both day and night. Through this collective effort, we are confident that this holistic approach will deliver the best solutions for the challenges at hand.”
Bucks reviewing watch party approach
Friday's first incident, where a 16-year-old girl and two adult men were shot near the corner of North Martin Luther King Drive and Highland Avenue, sent dozens of people who had gathered for watch party in Deer District fleeing for their lives just as the game was ending. An hour later a second shooting, this one injuring a 20-year-old man, took place on Water Street near Highland Avenue.
The violence prompted the Bucks to call off Sunday afternoon’s watch party. On Monday Milwaukee Bucks president Peter Feigin told the Milwaukee Business Journal that organization would was reviewing how to handle watch party’s next season.
“The shootings that happened in downtown Milwaukee (Friday) night were horrific and we condemn this devastating violence. We are grateful to local law enforcement for its valiant efforts to try to contain what was a dangerous and fluid situation,” said the team in a statement issued early Saturday morning. “While these incidents took place outside of Deer District property, it clearly resonated with fans coming out of the arena and leaving the plaza. Security, health and welfare are always our top priorities for our guests and employees and we appreciate the hard work of our security team to keep our fans safe.”