Weekly Update


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As you know by now, I like being frank in this space. I think my job as your mayor is to be both celebratory of our momentum and clear-eyed about our challenges.

It’s in that context that I want to discuss a tough topic: the recent and ongoing violence that affects our city.

Take last weekend, in which five of our fellow citizens were murdered. Let me repeat that: Five of our fellow citizens were murdered.

The stat folks can say, and rightly so, that we’re still down 10 percent year over year in homicides. But homicide is the kind of stat for which, no matter the trend line, the only acceptable rate is zero.

And our rate is absolutely unacceptable.

MPD continues to investigate, but we do know some preliminary information on these. It appears that in all five instances, the victim and the suspect either knew each other or there was a gang connection. In one instance, a 23-year-old man is accused of beating his girlfriend’s 3-year-old to death. In another incident, an 18-year-old man and a 16-year-old girl got into an argument, and the man is alleged to have shot the girl’s 12-year-old brother.

At city government, we need to continue our work. We will continue to rebuild the police department, which is poised to increase our officer count for the first time in years. We will continue to offer more opportunities for young people, like increasing our summer jobs program, extending community center and library hours, and offering new programming such as after-school activities at those community centers. We will continue to seek the stiffest penalties for those who do violate our peace with violence.

Make no mistake: Driving down violent crime is our No. 1 priority. Period.

But here’s what else we need: As Memphians, from Westwood to Cordova and from Frayser to East Memphis, we need everyone to get just as mad and just as motivated as we are to put this nonsense to an end. And yes, that includes better parenting. And it includes personal responsibility.

The good news is that so many groups in our city are here to help. The Family Safety Center is here to help with victims of domestic violence. The Universal Parenting Place can nip a big problem in the bud. Our own LINC 2-1-1 service can connect anyone with all kinds of social services. Our Opportunity Memphis website makes it easy to connect with jobs and training. And the list goes on and on and on.

I know of no other city in America with so many organizations working to fill so many needs.

And if you’re wanting to pitch in for these long-term solutions to our violent crime challenge, we have just the place for you. You can mentor a kid — a proven way to increase college matriculation and better outcomes in life — by clicking here. And you can read to a second grader — another proven way to make sure kids continue their education instead of falling behind — here.

It’s true: Some people don’t want me to talk about crime, or to focus on all the things we’re doing to fight it. And I agree with them on this to a point — it’s hardly what defines this great city, after all.

But I’m reminded of a lady I met in passing at the Orange Mound parade a few weeks ago. “Don’t let up on fighting crime,” she said. “We won’t,” I told her. See, for too many people in too many neighborhoods, crime affects every single minute of life.

For that reason — and for our collective future — I will keep up the fight.

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