Mayor Strickland's Weekly Update

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We’ve said time and time again that the level of violent crime in our city is unacceptable -- but these aren’t just words.

There are actions behind the words, too.

Earlier this week, I stood beside U.S. Attorney Edward Stanton III as he announced federal indictments of 16 alleged leaders of the Gangster Disciples, a violent street gang with heavy operations in Memphis. The indictments were in large part due to work done by the Multi-Agency Gang Unit, a group with which the Memphis Police Department partners.

Also, between Feb. 1 and April 15, MPD’s Blue C.R.U.S.H. operations led to 394 felony arrests, the recovery and confiscation of 130 weapons, and the removal of large quantities of drugs off our streets.

These two items alone demonstrate how hard our law enforcement community is working to fight violent crime. Michael Rallings, our interim police director, said it best this week when he was asked what message he had for criminals in Memphis: “We are coming after you.”

That we are. We’re fighting violent crime in our city every hour of every day, thanks to the hard-working men and women of MPD.

Thanks, Evergreen Packaging: Memphis had a very good economic development announcement this morning: Evergreen Packaging is locating its global headquarters here!

That means about 70 new jobs, thanks to the combination of sister companies Closure Systems International and Graham Packaging Company into one consolidated headquarters in Memphis. Evergreen’s combined operations consist of 127 manufacturing facilities in 36 countries, 14,000 employees and revenues of approximately $5.5 billion.

And all of that will be based out of Memphis, Tennessee. We celebrate their choice, which shows we have real momentum.

Learn from our history: My administration partnered with the N.A.A.C.P. to place a historical marker commemorating the 1866 Memphis Massacre in Army Park, and I was proud to be part of the ceremony Sunday that unveiled it.

Strickland at marker

It’s important that we remember and reflect on our history -- and that the history be accurate, too. I commend the N.A.A.C.P. and others who fought for this.

Congratulations, Shon: You may have heard that Shon Coleman, a local young man who played football at Auburn, was selected in last week's NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. Here’s something else you should know: His mother, DeKeishia Tunstall, is an operations manager at Memphis Animal Services.

Adopt a summer camper: If you’re looking to make a difference with our youth this summer, check out this website. My friends Elizabeth and Ben Daniel coordinate this Adopt-A-Camper campaign, where for just $81, you can send a young person in Memphis to one of our summer camps.

The Daniels are sponsoring the first 50 children, and the program assists families who might not otherwise be able to afford the tuition. In the past few years, the Daniels’ efforts have led to more than 1,200 children attending summer camp.  

Here’s something good: Memphis City Beautiful just received a $25,000 grant from the state of Tennessee to establish a Litter Free Schools program in Memphis. It’ll help 21 schools in areas that have problems with litter and blight.

And finally: When I pulled up to the site of the old Quality Inn near the Memphis & Arkansas Bridge for Wednesday’s announcement of its planned demolition, I thought of the contrast: Just a few blocks away in the South End, apartment construction is booming and a neighborhood is thriving. Yet here we were at a blighted eyesore of an old motel that has greeted tens of thousands of travelers a day for more than two decades.

Hotel news conference

Contrasts like these only make me more and more committed to our philosophy of government. The more of these seemingly overwhelming issues we can confront, the more and more momentum we can enable.

And another thing: This hotel sat vacant for more than two decades, and we announced an agreement for its demolition in a little over four months from the time I became your mayor.

I want you to know that I am committed to tackling the seemingly intractable challenges of Memphis, the issues that so many of us have resigned to being part of our daily lives. They don’t have to be. And with your help, we’ll have more and more announcements like Wednesday’s.


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