Barrett Addresses Downtown Violence

Mayor Tom Barrett. Screenshot from June 22nd, 2021 press conference.

Mayor Tom Barrett. Screenshot from June 22nd, 2021 press conference.

Mayor Tom Barrett addressed the increasingly violent gatherings that have been occurring late into the night in recent weeks.

Recently, on the weekends, large crowds of hundreds or thousands of people have been gathering, primarily in the Water Street entertainment district between E. State St. and E. Knapp St.

There have been fights, multiple shootings and one homicide in the area during the month of June.

“This is very much on our front burner,” said Barrett during a media briefing on Tuesday.

The mayor said his office is working with city leaders at the Milwaukee Police Department, the Department of Public Works and the Milwaukee Health Department.

I’m concerned about violence, I’m concerned about bad behavior throughout the entire city of Milwaukee,” he said.

Barrett said the city has had recent experience with “young people gathering, hundreds if not thousands, of young people gathering at Midtown.” The gatherings at Midtown Center, 5700 W. Capitol Dr., made the news after a shooting where more than 300 shots were fired.

“And now, obviously, there’s a lot of attention being paid correctly, because there is a problem right now along Water Street that goes into other parts of Downtown as well,” the mayor said.

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Barrett said that police issued 62 traffic citations and had 42 vehicles towed over the past weekend.

“We know this is a concern for residents, we know that this is a concern for businesses,” Barrett said. “And I talked to the police chief as recently as last night about different thoughts he had about how we can do an even better job this weekend.”

Business owners are saying that massive crowds in Downtown are, to a large extent, not patronizing the bars and restaurants in the entertainment district, according to a report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“I understand and agree with the concern that we should have more police officers there, and we’re working to do that,” Barrett said.

The mayor said the city has so far limited the scooter activity in the area and “limited and moved” the food trucks.

[inarticle ad=”UM-In-Article-2″]“We obviously need to get the message out that this is not the place where you congregate, there was too much, I think, open drinking in the streets, there are firearms that are pretty apparently visible.”

Barrett tied the police response to the stagnant revenue, which doesn’t keep pace with inflation, the city receives from the state.

“We’ve had this conversation about the strength of our police department for several years now, as I’ve pleaded with the Legislature to give us resources, so that we didn’t have to make the cuts that we’ve made to the strength of the police department.”

Barrett Addresses Downtown Violence