Mid-south women participate in self-defense class following string of violence

Mid-south women participate in self-defense class following string of violence
Published: Sep. 11, 2022 at 5:46 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The recent string of violence across the Bluff City is leaving many women on edge, but retired Shelby County Captain Bennie Cobb is working to give women the tools they need to stay safe.

“Practice, and you need somebody that you trust to explain it to you,” Ayanna Merriwether said.

13-year-old Ayanna Merriwether started practicing how to protect herself, as a child with her grandfather, Bennie Cobb.

Cobb, who has more than 40 years of experience in law enforcement and public service, now spends his time giving back in another way.

At least once a month, Cobb and several other retired law enforcement officers host free self-defense classes for women.

Most of the instructors are parents, with their daughters and granddaughters top of mind when teaching others about the best ways to protect themselves.

“We are not responsible for these predators,” Cobb said. Predators are 100 percent at fault, so I would encourage people to continue to enjoy their lives.”

But, Cobb says, he wants women to do that safely.

We spoke with Jean Davis, who attended the class.

“I’ve been a victim of crime twice in my life already,” she said. “So I’m tired of it, just like Joyce said.

“Just not too far from here, the Target that I would normally go to, someone was kidnapped a week or two ago,” Attendee Miska Shaw said. You don’t want to get into victim blaming; you don’t want to say that it’s your fault because you’re running at this certain time or you weren’t looking, but it’s nice to have that reminder to try to get one step ahead of the criminals and the way that they think.”

Women from different zip codes with different perspectives all attended with the same goal.

Be ready should danger occur.

“There’s just no place to run; people need to start being alert and taking care of themselves,” Davis said. There’s no sense in trying to get out of the county or the city because it’s going to come where ever you are.”

Cobb and the other instructors offered some potentially life-saving advice to the women in the room.

Most importantly, they say, lose the tunnel vision and pay attention to your surroundings.

“We have to take this opportunity to talk to our young people and the ladies in our lives and let them know that there’s a time and place for everything,” Cobb said.” It don’t take long to put the phone down, get in your car, put your seatbelt on, lock your door and do everything you can to be safe. "

“I do look around me when I’m leaving Kroger, or I’m leaving any kind of department store,” Davis said. Or even getting in and out of my car (even at church), we can’t depend on being safe anywhere; crime goes everywhere.”

For Katina Davis, Sunday’s class was a refresher.

“Things change so much, and you gotta stay up to date on what you need to know,” she said.

Katina also told Action News 5 she learns something new every time attends the class. She said the recent violence across the city has made her nervous, “but because of what I’m learning, it made me feel safer,” Katina said.

Miska Shaw, a local attorney who attended, says although her city is hurting, she will not lose hope.

“Keep trying,” Shaw said. “We’re trying to learn how to defend ourselves, but I’m also interested in things for youth, youth development, and social services where people won’t get into this life of crime, and that’s something that we have to put as much effort into as we do into law enforcement and self-defense.”

The self-defense classes are held at 3200 Brother Blvd, Bartlett, TN 38133. You can call 901-348-0001 for more information.

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