Memphis neighborhood holds town hall, looking for ways to fight crime

(WMC Action News 5)
Updated: Mar. 29, 2019 at 9:51 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The first in a series of town hall meetings in North Memphis this week brought together two mothers, a landlord and a community activist. These four women are determined to make a change.

With sons Antwuan and Jerderius in tow, Jeronica Williams wasn't going to miss this meeting.

"We be on edge,” Williams said. “I'm not gonna tell no stories. We be on edge."

The boys were asleep the night someone opened fire on their North Memphis apartment building.

"We are not going to let the hoodlums take over,” said Rayna Mike, North Memphis Property Manager.

Rayna Mike bought the troubled apartments, renovated them, added a fence, camera system, and security patrol.

"We have evicted people who were dealing drugs,” Mike said. “I mean, we've done a lot. And we have now a good community and we don't want people come and spoil it."

Landlord and tenant banded together, looking for solutions to crime and blight in their community. North Memphis experienced a deadly triple shooting a week ago.

Chandra Brazier's son, Marquez, was murdered in North Memphis three months ago.

"I don't want another mother to have to feel the pain. It's horrible, the pain,” Brazier said. “Because it never stops."

She and others inside the Hollywood Community Center pressed the panel of government leaders for crime-fighting specifics.

"Law enforcement and prosecutors can't do this alone,” said Bill Gibbons, Memphis/Shelby County Crime Commission President. “It really takes citizens being engaged at the neighborhood level to really make the difference we need to make."

Michalyn Easter-Thomas, founder of nonprofit Our Grass, Our Roots, organized this town hall.

"Well, this is my history,” Easter-Thomas said. “This is where I come from. And even when I was away at grad school, I came back and bought a house in North Memphis, specifically, so I'm invested. I want to see it grow, not only for me. But my neighbors around me."

Memphis has hired more police officers, and statistics show crime is down year to year. It’s little consolation when violence rips your heart out.

"What does it say about Memphis, Tennessee when half of your citizens carry guns for protection?” Brazier said. “And the other half are the killers. What does that say?"

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