Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Memphis mayor has a talk with gang leaders to ask for a stop in fighting to try and reduce the shootings happening in the city

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Last year, in Memphis, a record-breaking 398 people became victims of homicides, which is a big increase from the 190 reported five years ago. In 2024, the city has already seen more than 600 major violent crimes, including at least 40 homicides. The Justice Department recently pointed out that violent crime in Memphis is at a 17-year high.

To address this issue, Mayor Paul Young, who started his term in January focusing on public safety, had a meeting with some of the top gang leaders in the city. They agreed to a seven-day ceasefire, meaning no shooting or killing for that period. The mayor asked for this during a discussion about youth development.

The gang leaders had some conditions, including making sure rival gangs also agreed to the ceasefire. They also requested assistance in finding good-paying jobs and getting the necessary training for those jobs.

Mayor Young mentioned that part of the problem in Memphis is a lack of job opportunities for gang members, leading to issues like car break-ins. Over 3,500 major property crimes were reported in January alone. The mayor explained that young people turn to crime because they need something to do and face a lack of activities in their communities. More than 45,000 young adults aged 16 to 24, who are not in school or employed, live in the greater Memphis area. Almost half of them live in poverty, according to the nonprofit The Collective Blueprint.

Mayor Young believes that providing job and internship opportunities to young adults, including those involved in gangs, can reduce violent crime. He referred to a study from Chicago that showed a 45% decrease in violent crime arrests among young adults who received job or internship opportunities in the first year.

In a recent update, Mayor Young mentioned that the city is using data on the origins of criminal behavior to develop coordinated intervention programs for neighborhoods in need. The city also has a violence intervention program focused on at-risk individuals impacted by or vulnerable to gun violence or retaliatory violence.

In the city, a program called 901 Bloc Squad is working to help people make better choices. They have a method where trained helpers talk to people on the streets, encouraging them to do positive things and offering them support.

Last month, 901 Bloc Squad and another group called Heal 901 arranged a meeting between the mayor, Jim Young, and leaders of gangs in Memphis. Heal 901’s founder, K. Durell Cowan, said that to solve the crime problem, they need to involve the people causing the issues.

Memphis has a lot of poverty, and to stop crime, they believe they need to provide jobs with good pay. Some gang leaders asked for activities to keep them busy, as they think it could help.

There’s been more gun violence lately, partly because of a new law that allows people to carry guns openly. Tennessee has weak gun laws, ranking 29th in the country, and has a high rate of gun-related deaths.

Cowan mentioned that due to the open carry law, some places still don’t allow guns inside, so people leave them in their cars. Criminals have been stealing guns from vehicles, contributing to the problem.

Gangs in Memphis are a big issue, even involving children as young as 8. Cowan wants to break the cycle and believes a truce among the gangs is possible, but it will take multiple meetings to make a real change.

The city council in Memphis is committed to finding ways to support groups that help young people. Mayor Young promises to allocate resources to make positive changes and says it’s not something new – it’s a continuous effort to improve the community.

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