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Residents, business owners call on city leaders to stop overnight violence

By Michele Fiore

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    MILWAUKEE (WDJT) — As after-dark violence continues to escalate downtown, those who live and work along Water Street are making an urgent plea to police and to the mayor’s office.

The subject lines of letters sent to Alderman Bauman say, “We are scared for our lives,” and “I am frustrated, scared and unsure of what to do.”

Water Street after dark has been a nightmare for many since Memorial Day weekend, with reckless driving, people openly drinking, firing off guns, fighting and breaking glass.

“I mean after 8 ‘o clock, as a woman, I won’t really go outside by myself. The streets are just packed and it’s just not a safe place where you feel at night anymore,” said one woman who asked not to be identified. She has lived in the area for over two years and wants to move out.

“The other weekend I probably heard like 10 rounds. I was told that somebody opened fire inside one of the bars on the block as well, so yeah, it’s pretty scary,” she said.

Business owners have turned to city hall for help.

“We are told by the police there is anywhere from two to four-thousand people on Water Street in the last couple of weekends, the vast majority of whom are not patronizing businesses,” said 4th District Alderman Robert Bauman.

Ald. Bauman says the mayor has initiated planning meetings to figure best moves to disperse crowds like this, but hasn’t included aldermen in those meetings.

“As far as what an alderman can do, it’s turning out not too much, because the mayor has taken over the process,” Ald. Bauman said.

Signs are now posted along Water Street, detailing a code of conduct.

“My guess is most of the folks hanging out on Water Street are probably not reading signs,” said Ald. Bauman.

Over the past weekend there were two shootings and several batteries downtown.

Police issued eight municipal citations, 62 traffic citations and towed 42 vehicles, but is it enough?

“Police are being told to request people not to drink in public, but there will be no enforcement. Maybe that’s effective, but then again maybe that’s not effective,” said Ald. Bauman.

“I’ve seen cars driving on the sidewalks. I’ve seen groups of 60 people in front of my house, girls dancing on top of cars while the cars are driving. People are halfway hanging out of the cars. It’s crazy,” said the anonymous woman.

We reached out to the mayor’s office. A spokesperson pointed to the interventions that were implemented over the weekend.

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