Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is asking the city's faith leaders to include messages of nonviolence in their sermons this weekend.
Barrett, other city officials and faith leaders gathered Wednesday morning for a breakfast at Christ the King Church to kick off the city's 13th annual Ceasefire Sabbath, a week-long effort that includes calling upon faith leaders to help spread the message of peace and violence prevention.
At the breakfast Wednesday, Barrett said faith leaders can reach community members who might otherwise be pulled into criminal activity.
"Change occurs at the speed of trust," Barrett said. "So what is important in our community is to build trust between the faith community and city government, between the police department and the faith community, and between the community and the police department."
Also at the breakfast, Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn acknowledged the city's homicide rate outpaced Chicago last year. Flynn said the city’s promise outweighs the challenges it's facing.
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Reggie Moore, director of the city's Office of Violence Prevention, said it's important to move beyond a reactionary approach.
"If we don't want our 10-year-olds and our 8-year-olds and our 6-year-olds in the same community meetings watching the same negative news stories five and 10 years from now, we also have to understand and invest in and support prevention," Moore said.
Violence prevention isn't anti-law enforcement, Moore said, and working with law enforcement is crucial.
Moore said many community members feel their voices aren't heard in developing prevention plans, but events like these will help change that.