Rep. Hardaway plans for ‘community terrorism’ bill in 2023

Published: Jul. 15, 2022 at 5:26 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A Memphis politician is continuing his fight to weed out what he calls terrorism in the inner city. Representative G.A. Hardaway (D-District 93) has been trying to get gang related crimes defined at terrorism, but his bill has failed to make it through the Statehouse.

A year ago this month Kelby Shorty, a Memphis elementary school student, was shot and killed on the Fourth of July while out in his front yard. Memphis Police said a bullet from a drive-by shooting hit Shorty, cutting his life drastically short. It’s crimes like that, and so many that have taken young lives and destroyed families, that has Representative G.A. Hardaway pushing lawmakers to redefine some of these crimes.

“It sets put a definition for community terrorism, it takes after the definition of international terrorism,” Hardaway said.

During the last legislative session Hardaway introduced a bill that would define gang-related crime as community terrorism, making it illegal to recruit someone to a gang against their will and increasing penalties for crimes like drive-by shootings. Hardaway said gang-related crime is terrorizing Memphis and other cities, and he wants the crimes defined and penalized as such.

“They’re goal is to take [the area], take control, by intimidation and instilling fear in the inhabitants. That’s nothing different than what ISIS would do or Al Qaeda from what they would do,” Hardaway said.

But his bill, though there was bipartisan support, didn’t make it out of committee during the 2022 session. Hardaway said while he has to start the bill process over he’s hoping the bill sees a vote in the full house and senate in 2023.

“The goal was to bring a focus and bring all of the problems together in one area of the law so we can bring the solutions together in one area of the law,” Hardaway said.

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