Burning buildings, looting and police in riot gear. They are not the images any city wants played out on the national news.
TODAY'S TMJ4's Charles Benson talked with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett about the path forward for the city.
Not along after the deadly police shooting, Mayor Barrett was on the scene assessing the situation. By the time he left 44th and Auer, he thought things were under control.
That all changed when his phone started blowing up around 9:30 that night with the first fire at the BP gas station. The unrest had begun.
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"My goal Saturday night was to get people off the street and to calm the city down and to send the message that this was something that we took very seriously," said Barrett.
Barrett turned to pastors and community leaders to bring calm. Eight businesses caught fire. What message would the burning images send the community and the nation?
Benson: Did you get anyone who called and said look, I just can't do business in the city?
Barrett: l didn't get that, now maybe they're not going to call me or maybe they're just going to quietly leave, but that's why it was very important to me to reach out to the businesses and let them know I wanted them to be here, because I don't want to see disinvestment.
But Barrett believes it's not just about jobs.
"You can't ignore the poverty, you can't ignore the homelessness or the hopelessness, the education issues, the public safety issues, those are very real," said Barrett.
Those are real problems the mayor says will require a team effort to solve. "I've had people say oh this is your problem, that problem... and my response is oh no, no this is all of our problem and obviously I'm not saying that to shirk responsibility, I have a huge responsibility in this."
The mayor says poverty is very real in Milwaukee. It has one of the highest concentrated areas of poverty in a major metro area in the country.
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