In a press conference on Monday, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett laid gun violence in the city at the feet of Governor Scott Walker and Republican lawmakers. Barrett called for policy action in the wake of a Sunday tragedy, in which an unknown suspect shot and killed a man and a teenager at the site of a traffic accident.
Police said 40-year-old Archie Brown Jr. and 15-year-old Rasheed Chiles were killed after Brown stopped to render assistance to a toddler who ran into the street, and was fatally struck by Brown’s van. Chiles and the toddler, identified as Damani T. Terry, were attending a birthday party at a house nearby.
“It started out as a tragedy, as an accident,” Barrett said. “But the total loss of control, the total inability to control oneself in that setting, led to two more tragic deaths,” Barrett said.
The Democratic mayor called for policy action, in the form of more state resources to combat gun crime in Milwaukee. “I don’t want to lock up more people who are carrying a nickel bag of marijuana, but I do want to lock up more people who get involved in gunfights in parks, on streets, outside taverns,” the mayor said.
Barrett singled out Walker, the Republican gun-rights champion. “The governor went to the NRA convention and just knelt before that altar. And you don’t see any of them involved in the urban violence that we see, the slow motion mass murders. They just totally wash their hands of it.”
The shootings of Brown and Chiles and a second, unrelated, fatal shooting of a 22-year-old man brought Milwaukee’s homicide total to 39 for the year, up from 14 at the same time last year. Barrett said that trend is similar in the nation’s other large cities.
“It is time for the legislature, for the governor to focus on the violence that we have here. It’s time that we have all the elements of our criminal justice system recognize the seriousness of this problem, because it’s only April,” Barrett said. He noted that Milwaukee police officers have taken 628 guns off the streets so far this year.”
“No increase in police staffing levels would have prevented the horrific tragedy on 48th Street yesterday. None. So there has to be something else and another way for us to deal with these issues.”