Milwaukee police announced a new program Monday to create safe places for members of the LGBTQ+ community and victims of human trafficking to call for help.
Milwaukee’s Safe Place program is modeled after a similar program created in Seattle, where businesses and other institutions can receive stickers and decals identifying themselves as a place to receive help.
Police Chief Jeffrey Norman and Mayor Cavalier Johnson announced the launch Monday in front of the program’s first attendee, the Iron Horse Hotel, at 500 W. Florida St.
“We understand that we represent a diverse community and that we need to have bridges, levels and ways to connect,” Norman said.
Police have made no arrests in Johnson’s murder, despite a $28,000 reward being offered for information leading to those responsible. Police filed homicide charges against a suspect, Clayton A. Hubbird, 31, of Milwaukee, days after Allen’s murder, but he was not arrested until September 29, police said Monday. .
Hubbird is in the Milwaukee County Jail on cash bond set at $250,000, according to online court records.
Milwaukee also has a reputation as a hub for sex trafficking, but this is often an underreported crime. A 2018 study found that 340 young adults and children were victims of sex trafficking over a four-year period.
“(Victims) need to know who they can turn to,” Norman said.
Companies are invited to register for the program at MKEPDPIO.org/safe-place.
The announcement of the program also comes weeks after the debut of the controversial Netflix series, “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story”, which has reignited discussions about anti-LGBTQ+ bias among law enforcement.
“We all know it exists, it existed,” said Brad Schlaikowski, executive director of Courage Milwaukee, which works with LGBTQ+ youth. “But what are we all doing together to make it better? I really applaud their efforts to reach out to the LGBTQ+ community to find out what our needs are and not just take responsibility for them.
Schlaikowski compared the program to similar efforts in schools, where decals signifying safe spaces can provide refuge for LGBTQ+ students who are bullied.
“So if a kid is being bullied in the hallway, they know they can come into that classroom,” he said. think it will help our city.
Nationally, 31 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been killed in the United States this year, according to the human rights campaign. The organization tracked a record 50 in 2021, the majority of whom were Black and Latina transgender women.
The murders of Johnson and Allen are the first of an identified black transgender woman in Milwaukee since Chanel Larkin, 26, was killed in 2010.
Diverse + Resilientan organization that works with Milwaukee’s LGBTQ+ community, surveyed 103 members of the trans community in 2020. Nearly half of respondents said that if they reported an act of violence against them, they would not be convinced that something something would be done about it. and they would not be mistreated.
Norman and Johnson pointed out that the city’s leadership has changed dramatically since the early 1990s, when Dahmer went after men of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community in Milwaukee.
Johnson highlighted the human rights campaign giving the city a 100 out of 100 for the inclusiveness of its laws and policies. The police department also has a unit of liaisons for the LGBTQ+ community within its ranks, Norman said.
How to get help
Diverse + Resilient provides trauma-informed support to the LGBTQ community across the state. To speak with an attorney, call or text the statewide hotline at 414-856-LGBT (5428).
The National Human Trafficking Hotline can be reached at humantraffickinghotline.org or by calling 1-888-373-7888 or texting 233733.
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee’s Safe Place program created for the LGBTQ+ community