MADISON (WITI) -- The Wisconsin Assembly is back in session, and on Tuesday, April 14th, lawmakers responded to charged comments from Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett regarding all the violence we've seen in Milwaukee in recent weeks.
Mayor Barrett held a news conference Monday afternoon -- after an incident Sunday in which three people were killed. It began when a two-year-old was hit by a car and killed near 48th and Glendale. That crash led to a shooting. Archie Brown, the 40-year-old driver who hit Damani Terry was shot and killed. Terry's brother, 15-year-old Rasheed Chiles was also shot. He died at the hospital.
Mayor Barrett on Monday criticized Governor Scott Walker and the state Legislature for passing laws that put more guns on the streets. He called for more resources to deal with all the violence in Milwaukee.
"I do want to lock up more people who do get involved in gun fights in parks, in streets, outside taverns because black lives matter," Mayor Barrett said.
Mayor Barrett is calling on lawmakers to help curb all the violence in Milwaukee.
"No increase in police staffing levels would have prevented the horrific tragedy on 48th Street (Sunday). None. So there has to be something else and another way for us to deal with these issues," Mayor Barrett said.
Mayor Barrett says homicides are up 160% in Milwaukee this year, and he's putting at least part of the blame on those in Madison.
"This community has to face the reality that the gun laws that this state has put forward over the last few years, as proud as it makes the Governor and the Legislature feel, has resulted in more guns on the streets of the city of Milwaukee," Mayor Barrett said.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says lawmakers have tried to help solve Milwaukee's problem by providing for things like ShotSpotter technology that helps police track gunfire.
"I have not seen any data to this point besides hyperbole as to whether or not the bills that I supported which allowed for concealed carry, I mean were the people that perpetrated the crimes concealed carry holders? We don`t know that. So I don`t really know the point he`s driving at other than trying to misdirect the public," Vos said.
Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca sees the answer to stopping all the violence as a multi-pronged approach, including things like healthcare and providing jobs.
"We'll be caucusing in the next week-and-a-half to discuss a range of other issues that we think might help to address Mayor Barrett's issues and concerns," Barca said.
Barca says he expects to see legislation come up in May that deals with access to guns and he thinks that will spawn a vibrant debate on the topic.
Several city leaders in Milwaukee on Tuesday issued statements in response to all the violence:
Alderman Bob Donovan:
"First, words cannot even begin to describe the tragedy that unfolded near Wahl Park late Sunday afternoon. Sadly, the tragedy was compounded by intense emotions and an overreaction using deadly violence.
But what is most disturbing to me is the mayor’s news conference (held yesterday, Monday, April 13) about the tragic chain of events. Initially, the mayor rightly mentioned how there’s no substitute for self-control in a situation like the one in the 4600 block of N. 48th St. on Sunday.
But then the mayor made a sharp turn off course, blaming everyone from the state Legislature and the Governor, to the NRA – and even some presidential candidates – for what took place on Sunday.
His rambling blame game was a bit bizarre, I must admit.
Is there any problem in Milwaukee that the mayor of Milwaukee will take responsibility for?
The mayor mentioned that Milwaukee’s homicide rate is up 160% when compared to the same time period last year. It is actually up at least 178% when compared to the same time frame last year.
That is just shocking.
And, over the last three years, statistics are telling us that 20% of our homicides will have occurred by mid-April. If that holds true, we’re on pace for 200 homicides this year (the highest homicide total the city has ever seen, based on my memory).
And sadly, I’m given no reason to believe that we won’t reach that total, as there is no plan or steps coming forward from our mayor – just blame and excuses.
Mayor, you and I must subscribe to different standards! We are continuing to hear from residents across Milwaukee who are scared to go outside, who are looking for an end to the violence and disorder. Yet our mayor is blaming everyone else.
If gun laws were the answer (as the mayor seems to believe), then Chicago (with some very tight gun restrictions) would be the safest city in America.
I sure hope our mayor stops the blame game and starts spending more time trying to find a way to end the disorder and violence.
The people of Milwaukee are pleading for that, Mr. Mayor."
Milwaukee County Supervisors Michael Mayo, Sr., and Khalif Rainey said Tuesday Sunday's incident near 48th and Glendale was evidence people are taking the law into their own hands:
“I can’t think of a more tragic incident,” Mayo said. “A man accidentally ran over a two-year-old who darted into the road, and he rightly stayed at the scene trying to help. For that he was shot dead along with a young man who happened to be the child’s brother. We cannot take the law into our own hands.
“What is happening in this county? A man who tried to do the right thing is dead, and so is an innocent person. This sort of gun violence is a horrible act that reflects an increasingly violent culture. It is an absolute tragedy that the little child was killed, but it was an accident. So someone took the law into their own hands, and the result is three deaths. This death means three generations we will not have now.
“We need to stop this violence in our community. If we don’t take care of our community no one else will.”
Mayo said he understood the sorrow of the child’s relatives and his friends, “but that was no reason to shoot two innocent people to death.
“Someone got angry, and now three innocent people are dead. This unconscionable act is a result of a gun culture that has gone completely out of control in this county.”
Rainey expressed his sorrow and offered his condolences to the families of all involved.
“There are too many of these types of senseless acts in our inner city,” Rainey said. “Gun violence is an epidemic in this county. It is out of control, and now three innocent people are dead. When is this going to stop?
“I urge calm this summer. I urge everyone to take a step back before they lose control and create violence. We haven’t even entered the summer months when more violent incidents take place. We need to stay calm and prevent more acts of senseless gun violence in the county. This incident is a case of vigilantism, and we cannot allow this sort of street justice to rule our county.”
Milwaukee Police Association President Mike Crivello issued this statement:
"While the city appears to be in a public safety freefall, the mayor chooses rhetoric and political agenda over a plan for saving our community.
The mayor was quick to point out that no amount of police staffing could make the difference.
1) The mayor chose the current chief -- does he (Flynn) agree with this flawed perspective 2) The mayor says more gun control and state support is needed (where is the local plan) and 3) and finally, he adds that small amounts of marijuana should be permissible and he reminds us that black lives matter. Let me remind him: recently three teens were killed...small amount of marijuana involved! An elderly couple enjoying their senior years, lives cut short...small amount of marijuana involved! Every life in this community matters.
Our police force remains two-to-three hundred officers under staffed, while at the same time, this force is furloughed at a rate equivalent to 48,000 man hours per year.
How can staffing not make a difference?
Our police officers are over tasked, while expected to perform duties of vacant positions -- these officers are forced to work without partners, which puts them at great risk, delays in response time and ultimately jeopardizes the safety of the entire community...investigations are minimized (detective & forensic investigators; each downsized 25% less than when Flynn arrived) -- the crook(s) has/have gained the upper hand under this current leadership."