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Business leaders stand by Milwaukee after 21 people shot downtown

water street deer district shooting
Posted at 10:07 PM, May 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-17 07:58:06-04

MILWAUKEE — Business leaders voiced their support for Milwaukee on Monday as a place to visit and enjoy after a weekend of shootings across the city.

However, there's no doubt the violence has left some concerned about venturing downtown.

That was evident on Saturday and Sunday. The Water Street Entertainment District had slower days and nights after 21 people were shot there on Friday night.

Even the Bucks-Celtics Game 7 didn't draw expected crowds.

"It literally lowers down the sales a lot. It [gun violence] does hurt. Imagine all the people who work at Deer District who didn't get to bartend," said Lawrence Kaufman, who bakes pizzas at Ian's Pizza on Juneau.

On Friday night, Dashun James went to the Deer District to enjoy the Buck's game. He left downtown with a bullet in his hip, jeopardizing a college basketball scholarship this fall.

"I thought I got grazed, but then, I tried to get up again while they was still trying to shoot. But I couldn't. My leg just felt numb," said James.

These stories have worried some in the business community.

"I had dozens (of) calls from business leaders across the community on Saturday night and Sunday," said Tim Sheehey, President of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC).

But, Sheehey added, those violent events aren't the reality of downtown Milwaukee.

"For people visiting Milwaukee, it's extremely safe, and I would welcome people to see all the great attributes we have in the city," he said.

Omar Shaikh is a local restaurateur who runs 3rd St. Market Hall.

"The actions of a few don't define us as a city," he said.

Milwaukee also hopes to attract the Republican National Convention (RNC) in 2024.

Sheehey didn't appear concerned that Milwaukee will fail to attract that event or others in the future.

"When the RNC comes here, and I hope they do, this will be the safest place in the United States outside of Washington D.C., because of the security that comes with a convention," said Sheehey.

There's still a lot of time between now and summer 2024. Sheehey said the MMAC is committed to working with city leaders.

You can read Sheehey's full statement below:

"Violence, anytime and anywhere, is devastating to a community. It is a reality that impacts too man y neighborhoods, and too often our central business district. Safety is the first order for both individuals and business 3establishments. MMAC will continue to work with our elected leaders and law enforcement officials to support better solutions.

These solutions must come in an urgent response to reduce the violence now, and this summer, across the community. The solutions must come short-term in the form of a better partnership between the City and State to put additional law enforcement, public and mental health services in place. And the solutions must comes long-term through better educational attainment for all of our residents and a better connection to the jobs that exist in this region.

MMAC and its members remain committed to creating economic opportunity that provides high-quality jobs to support a vibrant quality of life for all."

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