Advocates react to violent weekend, discuss how we can reduce youth crime

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- As the city grapples with the violence impacting our youth, those who work day-to-day with young people discuss what can be done to help keep kids off the streets.

"Every time you look at the numbers [they're] bigger and greater, the person doing the crime is younger and younger," Andre Lee Ellis the founder of Andre Lee Ellis & Company Community Garden and The Cage Milwaukee said.

For Ellis, who originally founded We Got This but stepped away for his new non-profit, seeing a string of violence involving children is painful.

"Outrage. Outrage. They're too young to have to deal with that. Where are the parents?" he said.

The Andre Lee Ellis & Company Community Garden helps cultivate self-esteem in young Black men who might feel their options are limited.

"We have to keep in mind, young men think, 'I'm not going to live to be 25 anyway. More than likely, I am going to get shot, or have to shoot at somebody,'" he said. "There are some that are ambitious, but most of them are anxious about having their face put on a t-shirt."

January is National Mentoring Month and mentoring is something community advocates say can make a difference in our city.

"Young people mimic the things they see, and they're mimicking us as adults and how we handle our problems, unfortunately," Executive Director of MENTOR Greater Milwaukee LaNelle Ramey said.

MENTOR Greater Milwaukee Executive Director LaNelle Ramey says we have to lead by example and provide the right type of support.

"We can't just assume that young people are okay," Ramey said. "We got to really be on their side, asking them the questions, giving them the shoulder. We always tell our mentors, we've got to be a sounding board, we've got to let young people speak so we can understand what their real needs are and not us as adults trying to regulate what that looks like."

Ellis also said early intervention is key to helping save our youth.

"We got to catch them now, structure them now, tell them to look this way, don't look over there, that's over with," he said.

If you would like to be a mentor to youth in our community, you can visit the MENTOR Greater Milwaukee website at milwaukeementor.com.

For more information on the Andre Lee Ellis & Company Community Garden and The Cage Milwaukee, you can visit their website at thecagemke.com.

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