Friday, August 19, 2016

Will last weekend have a lasting impact on Milwaukee?

By: Scott Stein, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

As a lifelong Wisconsin resident who has spent the vast majority of my life in eastern Wisconsin, I do keep an eye on what’s happening in the state’s largest city, Milwaukee. Many more of us were drawn in by the events of last weekend, after a Milwaukee police officer shot and killed an armed man in the Sherman Park area.

Your view of what happened probably depends a great deal on what your news source was. Some national news outlets would have you believe all of Milwaukee was burning, when, in fact, the “riot” was generally confined to about a two block area of the city. I’d venture to guess that there were some people in Milwaukee who didn’t pay attention to the news and didn’t even know what was happening.

While a number of U.S. cities rocked by similar incidents have continued to experience problems, things seemed to quiet down in Milwaukee after just a couple of nights as community members came together to clean up and work toward peace and quiet. 

Part of the discussion now is, “How will this impact Milwaukee going forward? Will people shy away from the city’s many entertainment and cultural offerings? Is this a black eye that will haunt the home of the Brewers, Bucks and Summerfest?”

As a PR person and the father of a Milwaukee resident, I’ve pondered that question this week. Even as I’ve heard some suburban Milwaukee residents on the radio saying they’ll stay away from the city, I believe the impact will be minimal and short term.

I look a short distance to the south, where our other child lives. Nearly every weekend there are reports of the growing number of murders in Chicago. Yet, I would not hesitate to go to the Windy City for a weekend visit and spend time at Navy Pier, one of the museums or a concert.

Now, more than ever, Milwaukee needs to let people know about the good things going on and remind people that the events of last weekend involved just a couple hundred people in a metro area that has more than 1.5 million residents.

Those two nights should not outshine the positives of the many ethnic festivals and other events and activities Milwaukee has to offer. Of course, a few more wins for the Brewers and Bucks would help bring more people to town, too. 

What do you think? Will you steer clear of Milwaukee? Will the “riot” have a lasting impact?  

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