Greenlaw residents upset about MPD’s proposal for their community center

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 12:31 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Greenlaw residents met on Sunday to discuss the proposed use of the Greenlaw Community Center as a holding center for the controversial Juvenile Crime Abatement Program.

The call-to-action meeting was held at Black Seed Urban farm to inform and get input from community members about the future use of the community center, which many were unaware of.

“I had no idea,” said Joshua Lonzo, who lives in the neighborhood. “While I do think ther eis a valid concern for crime and safety, we need to look at alternatives in my opinion.”

One of the organizers of the meeting said that’s the consensus he’s gotten from everyone he’s spoken to.

“They don’t want the Greenlaw Community Center to be used as a holding center,” said Vincent Spriggs II, who is the executive director of Game Changers Movement and an educator in Memphis. “They did not knock on anybody’s door, walk the streets or get any input from residents who live in the community about what they want.”

And on Sunday, Spriggs worked to do what he says MPD didn’t: get community input.

The Greenlaw residents who showed up voiced concerns about the Juvenile Crime Abatement Program overall, but their immediate concern was that using it to house juveniles apprehended for being out past curfew would only exasperate a problem with kids not having constructive things to do over the summer.

“We need this community center to be a community center,” said Bobby Rich, who owns Black Seed Urban Farm. “People don’t really have access to these resources. If it’s in the community it needs to be used for the community.”

“I take my son to play basketball here, my students play basketball here. We need this here,” said Spriggs.

Spriggs went on to call everyone, like him, who thinks this is an improper use of the center to be in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting.

“If you have ever been to Greenlaw Community Center you have to show up,” Spriggs urged. “Be present because if you don’t have a seat at the table you are on the menu.”

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