Orange Mound mural made in remembrance of victims lost to gun violence

New mural created to send important message to Memphis’ youth, creators say
Published: May. 29, 2023 at 7:04 PM CDT|Updated: May. 29, 2023 at 10:46 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A nonprofit organization created to build up the Orange Mound community recently unveiled a mural that aims to send a very important message to Memphis’ youth about gun violence.

The mural on Park Avenue and Pendleton Street lists 250 names of men, women and children all lost to bullets over the past 19 years.

The oldest victim named was in his late 60s and the youngest was just 10 years old.

Keith Leachman, one of the creators of the mural and founder of “Stop The Killing - Cut the Beef Community Development Program,” hopes it will encourage young people to make better choices this summer.

“It’s just senseless man,” said Leachman, who is also an Orange Mound resident. “It don’t make sense.”

He hopes young people around Memphis choose a different path before committing a crime this summer.

“Think before you act, young man,” Leachman said. “Once you fire that weapon, you can’t bring that weapon back. We’ve got to find something for them to do to be active. They’ve got to be active. If we don’t find something for them to do, they’re going to get into something.”

Leachman said the mural, completed just last month, is only the tip of the iceberg for the nonprofit, which wanted to honor the names of those lost to gun violence in some way.

“It’s time to break the cycle y’all,” said Leachman. “God gave me the idea to put them on my shirt top of my hoodies. They got too small. We wanted to be a billboard. We started the walls going to be around the city and I feel like we need to bring awareness in our community. I hope to bring awareness around the city.”

He even knew the stories behind many of the victims.

“Lil Knox here, he got killed right in the park,” said Leachman.

But not all of the names are able to fit on the wall.

“He got killed one year,” said Leachman. “They killed Lil D money the next year, his brother.”

Leachman says the artist behind the mural is the same one behind the Orange Mound mural of Tyre Nichols.

Through his organization, he hopes to inspire his community and young people outside of Orange Mound before another life is lost.

“You don’t have to lose there, I have already paid dues there,” said Leachman. “Don’t go into the system because it’s just gonna be a revolving cycle door that’s gonna follow you the rest of your life.”

Leachman says 100 more names still need to be added to the wall. He’s hoping to make another mural for those names just across the street from this one within the next month.

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