Officials work to end violence against young African-American men

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett returned Friday, February 28th from a trip to New Orleans where he attended a meeting tackling one question -- how do you stop young black men from being murdered?

Barrett, along with leaders from 56 other U.S. cities, came together as part of Cities United, a nationwide effort to fight and prevent violence among African-Americans.

"The vast majority of homicides, in Milwaukee and in many large cities in our country, are African-American men and I'm sad to say it, but when I get contacted about a homicide the first things I'm thinking is 'this is going to be a young African-American man,'" said Barrett.

Last year, the city had 106 total homicides. Barrett, along with Milwaukee police chief Ed Flynn, are hoping to limit that number in the future.

"The police department is very active. We're preparing for the summer months where we know there is going to be a lot of activity. There's a lot of data the police have as to where the hot spots are," said Barrett.

The mayor believes the violence stems from a wide range of issues -- from employment to education. During the two-day event, city officials identified concerns and came up with ways to help combat them.

"There was a lot of talk about programs like job corp, summer youth employment," said Barrett. "It's catching young men earlier. It's making sure if a child is not doing well in school, that you find a way to keep them at the school rather than suspend them."

Barrett says right now in Milwaukee there is a small group of young men who resolve their differences with violence and it needs to end.

Officials have several initiatives planned and are working with the faith community for the Ceasefire Sabbath. There will be a gun buyback and a walk for peace.

Barrett believes in order to make a change, the entire community must get involved.