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RACINE – On Monday, officials from the City of Racine gathered at Racine City Hall to discuss recent tragedies, namely the ongoing and increased gun violence that has been taking place in Racine.

Participants included Mayor Cory Mason, Police Chief Maurice Robinson, Assistant Police Chief Alexander Ramirez, Common Council President John Tate II, Alderman Maurice Horton and others.

Police Chief Robinson started his speech by recounting an altercation on Sunday morning which took the life of Racine business owner, Terrance Blair.

Cheif Robinson said that the shooting involving Mr. Blair, “was one of those events that just don’t seem to make sense.” He continued, “at this point, this is the sixth homicide of the year in the City of Racine compared to three homicides this time last year.”

Increased calls for “shots fired”

As of May 16, the City of Racine had experienced 383 calls for shots fired year-to-date. The City of Racine has seen an increase of 49.03% in shots fired calls for service, according to the Racine Police Department.

Mayor Mason spoke of the need to build stronger partnerships and programs as well as develop interventions that the community would implement. He said, “this cannot stand as the new normal for the City of Racine. Gun violence cannot be tolerated.” He added, “I certainly know that there is not a magic pill that will solve all of these problems overnight, but I know that we are deeply committed as a community to making sure that we have a safe community.”

Addressing violence

In an attempt to combat the violence, Robinson has met with several organizations and community influencers over the last couple of days. During his speech, Robinson said that conversations will continue over the coming weeks in an attempt to address the gun violence taking place.

Robinson stated that there are “far too many guns that are available,” and many of those are in the hands of juveniles.

The chief had this message for parents: “If you are a parent and you believe your juvenile has got a gun at home, call the Racine Police Department. We’ll come and get your gun.”

In his closing remarks, Robinson implored the community to be engaged in this effort. If you hear shots being fired, call the police and report it. Any information they receive from community members is counted as very valuable as it may lead to a break in one of their investigations.

Addressing trauma

Common Council President John Tate II took to the podium at the briefing to share insights as well. Tate, who has a background as a social worker, is the Alderman for District 3, where the incident involving the death of Blair took place.

Tate described these events as “ping-pong interventions” and “ping-pong interactions.” He vocalized, “one person harms another person, and that harm escalates to someone else. I know that trauma creates more trauma if it’s not helpfully addressed.”

In response to the continuing violence that leads to increased trauma, Tate acknowledged the service providers throughout both the County and City of Racine who provide mental health care. His hope is to prevent victims from becoming victimizers.

Public safety, Tate said, is not just law enforcement. Public safety involves all of us. It includes getting victims the help they need to heal from their experiences. Law enforcement will do their jobs, but they can’t provide therapy and treatment for the victims. He called on the community to be doing this for each other by helping people get the help they need.

Learn about mental health resources by visiting the Racine County Eye’s Community Resource Directory. View a list of Mental Health Resources available through the City of Racine including outpatient evaluations, psychotherapy and counseling online.

Tate also called on the people of Racine to cooperate with law enforcement when these instances occur.

“When something’s escalating, don’t just pick up a cell phone to record it. You know, pick up a cell phone to call for help or step in and try and deescalate that,” the Alderman said. “Because you recording someone harming someone and then putting it on social media only fuels the rage for that person who may have been harmed to respond in a worse way. We can’t continue to do that. We can’t continue to hurt each other in that way. And we have to do better as a community.”

Initiatives in place in the City of Racine

District 7 Alderman Maurice Horton discussed that there are numerous initiatives in place in our city to help prevent crime and engage our youth. He mentioned the organizations that are currently active in Racine, including Voices of Black Mothers United, the Credible Messengers Program and summer youth jobs as well.

He shared, “should it be more initiatives? Probably so. The mayor and the (Common Council) president (are) talking about getting additional resources to hear from those nonprofits and working with everybody in this community to bring this community back together.”

Both Horton and the Police Chief shared the importance of youth employment. He stated, “We also were able to work with Parks and Recs, to have them keep the community centers open for a couple of hours later in the summertime, which really helped us out last year. So we anticipate doing the same thing this year, to give kids something constructive to do into the later afternoon and early evening hours.” This includes five community centers.

Mayor Mason explained that there is value in the five Community-Oriented Policing (C.O.P.) Houses and the Police Cadet Program.

Moving forward

No changes have occurred for the Racine Police Department. The Chief states, “we are being judicious and vigilant as we always are. There is no strategy for random violence. There is no strategy for senseless violence. Nobody has a plan for that.”

Sunday’s altercation

Chief Robinson fielded questions about the recent incident that took place in Uptown Racine. On Sunday, at 2:40 a.m., an altercation that included gunfire resulted in the death of 42-year-old Terrance Blair and the injury of a 28-year-old woman. The incident took place near Mr. Kool Sports Bar in the 1300 block of Washington Avenue.

Blair is the husband of community leader, Yolanda “Yogi” Sherrell Blair. After the death of her husband, she posted a video talking about what led up to the shooting. She also noted that the Racine Police Department told her previously that it was their responsibility, as the bar owners, to clear the parking lot even though it is owned by the city.

In an additional article published in the Racine County Eye, it states, “she spoke about the need to disperse the crowd that had formed in a city parking lot after the bar closed. The City of Racine told her it was her responsibility.” Read more about this incident on the Racine County Eye.

The Racine County Eye asked Chief Robinson if he could speak on why Edwards would have been told that it was the bar owners’ responsibility to clear a municipal lot, to which he replied, “no, I can’t.”

When asked if business owners clearing out municipal areas is a common practice, he responded, saying, “that is not something that I’m familiar with.” Yet, after it was stated that Yogi Blair was the one who made that statement in a Facebook Live recording, the chief refused to comment further.

Mayor Mason expressed, “this is deeply troubling for the entire city, but obviously deeply, deeply traumatic for the family and friends left behind, left to deal with the loss and the trauma that comes with it.”

No suspect in custody, Chief asks for community’s help

As the Racine Police Department Chief discussed the matter, he noted that “a number of suspects have been interviewed and subsequently released. We do not have a suspect in custody at this time.” As the investigation continues, community leaders are calling on community members to come forward with any information regarding the ongoing violence and especially related to the death of Blair.

Editor’s note: This version of the story corrects the name of Yolanda Sherrell Blair. Racine County Eye regrets the error. 

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