'I need parents to step up': Milwaukee city leaders urge residents to do more to reduce violence, reckless driving

·2 min read

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson Tuesday repeated earlier calls for residents to do more to reduce violence and reckless driving in their communities.

This time, his message was to sixth graders at Roosevelt Creative Arts Middle School, who wrote him letters with concerns about reckless driving.

“The most powerful people in this room right now are you,” Johnson told the students. “If you’ve got friends that you know that might be doing bad things, you can influence them.”

Johnson, Police Chief Jeff Norman and Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent Keith Posley talked with the students as the city continues to grapple with a scourge of gun violence, car theft and reckless driving.

City officials have raised concerns about young people, including pre-teens, stealing cars and driving recklessly.

“I need parents to step up and to make sure they’re taking responsibility for their kids in this city,” Johnson said Tuesday.

Gun violence is also in the spotlight after 21 people were shot and injured downtown after the Milwaukee Bucks playoff game Friday, and after six juveniles were shot in separate incidents over the weekend.

“We’re on pace to see a deadly year for kids, for young people. And that to me is not acceptable,” Johnson said.

More: Two men are charged in the shootings near the Deer District in downtown Milwaukee

More: 'More guns than we have police officers': Police used same strategy from last summer to quell violence downtown, but challenges remain

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson talks with students in the hall after an event where the mayor, police chief, MPS School Superintendent and others addressed public safety and reckless driving at Roosevelt Middle School on West Walnut Street in Milwaukee on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. The Mayor and the other attendees will meet with the students and discussed their perspectives on increasing safety on Milwaukee streets.
Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson talks with students in the hall after an event where the mayor, police chief, MPS School Superintendent and others addressed public safety and reckless driving at Roosevelt Middle School on West Walnut Street in Milwaukee on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. The Mayor and the other attendees will meet with the students and discussed their perspectives on increasing safety on Milwaukee streets.

The city leaders answered students' questions about how reckless driving and gun violence affected them personally.

Johnson said that sometimes, when his wife is picking up their son from school with their 4-year-old twins in the car, someone drives directly at her "like in a game of chicken."

"I want (my kids) to be able to go outside and ride their bikes without fear of bullets flying around them," he said. "I want them to be able to go outside and walk around ... without fear of somebody getting inside of a car and driving on the sidewalk."

Norman thanked the students for being "part of the solution."

"Please be that voice of reason," he said. "We all have a role in our safety in our community."

Roosevelt Middle School sixth grader Jera'Zariya Gay, left, raises her hand as Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman mock-deputized the students as city ambassadors to fight against reckless driving during an event where the mayor, police chief, MPS School Superintendent and others addressed public safety and reckless driving at Roosevelt Middle School on West Walnut Street in Milwaukee on Tuesday, May 17, 2022.
Roosevelt Middle School sixth grader Jera'Zariya Gay, left, raises her hand as Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman mock-deputized the students as city ambassadors to fight against reckless driving during an event where the mayor, police chief, MPS School Superintendent and others addressed public safety and reckless driving at Roosevelt Middle School on West Walnut Street in Milwaukee on Tuesday, May 17, 2022.

Contact Sophie Carson at (414) 223-5512 or scarson@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter at @SCarson_News.

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee mayor urges residents to reduce violence, reckless driving