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Community groups, city leaders call for more communication to slow skyrocketing homicide rate

By Adam Rife

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    MILWAUKEE (WDJT) — Tuesday night, families of victims, community leaders, and city officials gathered on the city’s north side in the latest attempt to understand the increase in deadly violence.

The number of homicides so far this year has jumped to 50, more than double last year’s total at this time. The invitations for this community discussion were first sent out last week, since then five more homicides were added to the total as this deadly week began.

People are grieving, scared, and desperate, and despite the obvious problems, no solutions seem to be working.

There have been so many murders in Milwaukee this year, it’s sadly hard to keep track of them all. The total is at 50 for now. Last year, which eventually saw a record 193 homicides, the total on March 29 was just 24.

Milwaukee Fire Chief Aaron Lipski said, “We are running a call volume for 911 calls that we’ve never seen in the city of Milwaukee before.”

And a Milwaukee police officer told those gathered, “We’re dealing with nonstop violence, from the moment we start work until we end work, and it’s a 24-hour cycle.”

Tuesday’s “Break the Silence” rally called for change, more conversation, and more community.

Jamal Smith, of the city’s Office of Violence Prevention, said, “It requires every entity in this community to be engaged. That means faith-based institutions, academic centers, social service providers, mental health providers.”

The problems have been obvious for a long time, but the causes are complex.

State Rep. Supreme Moore Omokunde, a Democrat representing part of Milwaukee, said, “We’ve known anxiety is going through the roof, depression is going through the roof, mental health challenges of all kinds have gone through the roof.”

Gun violence carries an enormous price tag. Smith said it costs the US an average of $34.8 million every single day.

Smith said, “We are now past the point of thoughts and prayers, just the point of thoughts and prayers. Now we need to activate our faith into work and action.”

But the human cost hurts more. So to break the cycle they’re first calling for conversations, at home and within the community.

Community Activist Tracey Dent said, “If they’re not getting love at home, they’ll get it in the streets. And the streets don’t love anyone.”

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