MILWAUKEE — As police and the community continue to search for answers following a violent weekend in downtown Milwaukee, a lot of questions about safety remain.
21 people were injured after multiple shootings downtown last week, which could raise concerns as the city competes against Nashville to host the Republican National Convention in 2024.
The opportunity to host a once in every-four-year convention would be huge for Milwaukee, especailly after the COVID-19 pandemic put a damper on turnout for the last big political event.
Both cities already made their final pitches. However, the decision could come down to more than which one can get voters the most excited.
Nashville would likely appeal to working-class voters with plenty of nightlife, while Milwaukee has those voters and is in a highly-watched swing state.
The two cities aren't so different in population either. Less than a hundred thousand people set them a part, and each deals with its share of crime.
Between 2020 and 2021, Milwaukee saw a 2% jump in homicides from 190 to 193, according to statistics from the Milwaukee Police Department.
Nashville has lower total homicides, but experienced a nearly 36% spike in the same time period.
Republican gubernatorial hopeful Rebecca Kleefisch held a press conference Monday morning near Deer District to share her concerns.
“I think it's deeply unfortunate that this made national news,” Kleefisch said. “I don't know what more I can say about it besides it is a very sad shame that you've got a bunch of riot-minded people coming down to ruin everyone's good time."
Meanwhile, the recent weekend violence does not appear to have taken Milwaukee out of contention to host in 2024.
“The safety of our delegates and guests is of the upmost importance to the RNC,” RNC Senior Advisor Richard Walters said in a statement. “The Site Selection Committee members have had high level and in-depth conversations with law enforcement officials in both Milwaukee and Nashville and we are confident in the abilities of each city to offer a secure, safe convention for our attendees.”
The city's visitors bureau, VISIT Milwaukee, did not comment specifically on what the recent violence could mean for the RNC bid, but stated it remains committed to finding long term solutions.
“The safety and security of our residents and visitors is of the utmost importance to both the leaders of our city and VISIT Milwaukee,” President & CEO Peggy Williams-Smith said in a statement. “We know that the issue of gun violence is multifaceted and not easily solved but we remain committed to doing what we can to help find solutions. This is why we will continue to work with partners across public and private sectors in the city to find long term solutions to these issues.”
A final decision on whether Milwaukee or Nashville will host the convention in 2024 could from RNC at any point over the summer.