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Appleton reacts to violence, not all support solutions

Posted at 5:35 PM, Feb 29, 2024

APPLETON (NBC 26) — Police and the City of Appleton are trying to prevent more violence downtown. They came up with some recommendations and are getting varying reactions from local businesses.

  • Appleton officials are trying to prevent more violence downtown, after multiple shootings earlier this winter.
  • They've come up with three recommendations for common council.
  • Local business owners shared their opinions on the recommendations. Not all of which would support their business.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

Following a deadly shooting and other violence in our downtown the community asked -- what are we doing about this? I'm your Appleton neighborhood reporter Olivia Acree with the city's recommendations and how not all businesses agree.

On Christmas Eve, a man was shot and killed just off Walnut Street. Weeks later, police say two people were shot in Brau Haus on College Avenue.

“It's such a rarity that something of that calamity would occur here,” said Bill Wetzel, Acoca owner.

Bill Wetzel owns Acoca, just across the street from the Christmas Eve homicide.

“That captures clearly everyone's attention,” said Wetzel.

He was part of meetings between the city and business owners on fixing the problem.

“Proposals. Here’s what we’re thinking about, what do you all think about that,” said Wetzel.

The city has recommended increasing lights downtown, requiring cameras and cooperation at businesses that serve alcohol, and limiting food truck hours.

“When I found out I was shocked, surprised,” said Alejandro Morales, Diablos Taqueria owner.

Alejandro Morales owns Diablos Taqueria. The Christmas eve shooting took place right in front of his taco truck. He says since then he's felt targeted.

“I added surveillance cameras, I'm more than happy if something happens to show the cameras to them. I’m not here to be against them and I don’t want to feel targeted the same way,” said Morales.

He says his truck is open until around three in the morning on weekends and he earns about 35% of his revenue downtown.

“We’re a small business. It’s going to hurt us at the end of the day,” said Morales.

Wetzel, Morales, and city officials say they want the same thing.

“Safety being first and foremost, but we also want to see businesses thrive,” said Wetzel.

But Morales says he feels left out of the conversation.

“I wish that they would communicate with me. We could sit down and have a meeting and come to a solution,” said Morales.

Lighting updates have been recommended to common council, but the camera and food truck ordinances are still in committee.