By: Raina J. Johnson
Special to The Milwaukee Times
Our nation has been no stranger to a rash of mass shootings, from Connecticut elementary schools, Chicago playgrounds to the Washington D.C. Naval Yard, gun violence and gun laws have been on the minds of everyone including Congress members and President Obama. This is a divisive and fiercely debated subject no matter whom you talk to you, on either side of the aisle and in any part of the county.
On a local level, Milwaukee, this summer especially has seen an increase in gun violence. As of October 2, 2013, the year-to-date total number of homicides climbed up to 81.
Understanding how violence of any kind impacts our community in many areas, Milwaukee-area state law makers, both democrats and republicans, decided to host a Community Forum on Gun Violence. The forum was moderated by community activist, Earl Ingram, Jr. on September 17, 2013 at the Wisconsin Black Historical Society, 2620 W. Center Street.
About 50 residents and community leaders were present at the forum. Founder of Peace for Change Alliance, Tracey Dent, testified before the law makers providing his suggestions on how reduce crime in our community. Many of the suggestions were grouped around community programming for residents and diversity awareness for police officers.
Mandela Barnes, 11th District (D-Milwaukee) said in a statement, “I was extremely humbled to see so many people attend the Community Forum on Gun Violence, and I want to thank them for being courageous and sharing their stories and experiences with my colleagues and me.”
Everyone, including members of the Milwaukee Police Department and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett knows that there is much more work to be done. Last week, Mayor Barrett released his proposal for the 2014 budget that includes a plan to hire 100 more police officers.
Representative Mandela Barnes and other law makers are committed to finishing the hard work that needs to be completed to reduce crime in our city. A joint release was issued in early August from State Senator Nikiya Harris and State Representatives Mandela Barnes, LaTonya Johnson, and Evan Goyke. “We call on our colleagues to work swiftly, and in a bipartisan fashion, to pass much-needed legislation in the upcoming fall session that will tackle this issue head-on.”