'We are self-destructing:' Milwaukee leaders call for change as domestic violence deaths rise

MILWAUKEE -- City leaders overseeing violence in Milwaukee say, aside from the coronavirus, domestic violence has become another state of emergency for the community.

A virtual gathering held Saturday, May 9, had over 4,000 views on Facebook and Zoom. Participants discussed what the community can do about the rise in domestic violence, especially while practicing social distancing.

Karin Tyler

"We are living in a crazy time with the pandemic, but we also have another state of emergency," said Karin Tyler with the city's Office of Violence Prevention.

Domestic violence has claimed the lives of 23 in Milwaukee this year according to the city's Commission on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.

This time last year, there were four domestic violence deaths.

"Right now, we really do have to push prevention because we are self-destructing right now," Sean Muhammad, with The Asha Project, said.

The number of domestic violence deaths includes 48-year-old Cathy King who was fatally shot, allegedly, by the man she was in a relationship with, according to police. Also, five people were killed in a mass shooting at a house on Milwaukee's north side.

Cathy King

(L-R) Teresa Thomas, Tiera Agee, Demetrius Thomas, Lakeitha Stokes, Marcus Stokes

Reggie Moore

"I want this to be a call that doesn't just end today, but something we will take moving forward and into the summer and beyond," said Reggie Moore with the city's Office of Violence Prevention.

Ending the crisis will be a marathon. Advocates for staying safe at home are brainstorming, considering the ideas of added mentorship, more public service announcements and door-to-door outreach.

"We have to be able to say hey, you know, you're wrong for putting your hands on that woman. You're wrong for threatening to put your hands on that woman," said Ray Mendoza with 414Life.

City leaders ask everyone to check-in with loved ones to help put the awful trend to an end. They also say the conversation will continue looking to the community for thoughts.

There is a growing list of resources for anyone in a domestic violence situation: