What's Really Ending Black Lives in Milwaukee (And It's Not the Police)

By Dan O'Donnell

April 26, 2021

On Friday afternoon, Milwaukee Police responded to three deadly shootings in the span of an hour. Three men were killed and five others injured in separate incidents all just a few blocks from one another. This, not deadly police shootings, is representative of the major epidemic of violence in the city that has ended far too many black lives.

Since the start of 2021, there have been 42 homicides. Of those, 38 victims have been black--a staggering 90% of the total. 32 of the victims (76%) were black men, and 35 of the black homicide victims (83%) were shot to death.

By way of comparison, there have been no white people or Asians and only three Hispanics murdered in Milwaukee so far this year. There have been more black children killed in 2021 (four) than whites, Asians, and Hispanics of all ages...combined.

In 2020, Milwaukee set an all-time record for homicides in a year with 199--beating the previous record set in 1991 by a full 14% and more than doubling the murder total from 2019. 145 of the 199 homicide victims (73%) in 2020 were black. 133 of them (67%) were shot to death. 108 of those (54%) were black men shot to death.

During that same period, there were just 17 white and 16 Hispanic murder victims total. To put that in even more perspective, there were nearly as many black children killed in 2020 (14) as there were total white or Hispanic people of all ages.

There were also 753 victims of non-fatal shootings in 2020, of which 670 (a staggering 89%) were black. Just 10% (78 in total) were white. This trend has continued in the first few months of 2021, as 164 of the 194 non-fatal shooting victims (85%) were black and just 29 (15%) are white.

During that same period, there have been no deadly police-involved shootings in Milwaukee and only one in the entire State of Wisconsin; a shootout with a suspect who had just murdered two people during a series of home invasions in Kewauskum.

In 2020, there were 18 deadly officer-involved shootings in Wisconsin, but every single person killed by a police officer was armed at the time. In Milwaukee, there were three officer-involved shooting deaths and all three men who were killed were armed with guns. Two of the men were black.

During the same year two (armed) black men died at the hands of police, 145 black people died in shootings that didn't involve police officers. This year, 38 black people have died in murders around Milwaukee but not a single one was committed by a police officer.

Homicide--especially gun homicide--is the real plague upon black lives in Milwaukee, and recognizing it for the out-of-control epidemic that it is and hyper-focusing on it (not the grossly overestimated problem of police killings) is the only way to stop it.

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