A Milwaukee mother and grandmother, who has worked before to get people to stop and think before they do something violent, says this past year has pushed her to act again.
"I’m tired of it,” said Vida Washington. “It was a number of everything that was happening. It was getting to my heart.”
Even if you have never met Washington before, there is a chance you know her signs. Over the last 15 years she has hung up signs that read, "Don’t hurt me. Don’t hurt yourself or others. Think before you act.”
“I said to myself, what are we doing here? What are we doing? We keep saying, stop the violence, but we have to stop,”said Washington.
In this last month, Milwaukee has seen a spike in violence. So far, there have been 20 homicides from Jan. 1 to Jan. 23. At this same time last year there were eight homicides. There were four in 2020 at this time. In two years, there has been a 400-percent increase in homicides.
The Medical College of Wisconsin looks at violence in Milwaukee and across the country. The director of the Violence Prevention Division Reggie Moore says violence continues to be on the rise since the pandemic.
“As it relates to gun violence, there are increases happening across the country even continuing into Chicago. We see a high number of shootings in similar size cities, such as Baltimore and St. Louis,” said Moore.
This year there have been 8 homicides in St. Louis and 21 homicides in Baltimore. But, Moore says just because violence is on the rise, doesn’t mean we can’t stop it.
“From 2016 to 2019, we had a four year steady decline of homicides in this city. So we know we can make a difference on this issue, we just have to return to that momentum. So this isn’t the time to give up, this is the time to double down,” said Moore.
Washington agrees. She is getting back out there to hand out her signs.
“One of our biggest problems in our society is we don’t think anymore, we just react to what is going on,” said Washington.
Washington says she is printing her signs once again and is heading back out this weekend to hang them up.