Nearly 200 Raleigh community residents joined elected officials and law enforcement officers to devise crime-fighting strategies Monday (Aug. 22) evening.
“There are more than 70,000 Raleigh residents,” said state Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis). “Those who are committing violent crime are just a minute part of the community. There are so many more of us than there are of them. We have the power to take back control of our neighborhoods.”
The town hall meeting, called by City Councilwoman Rhonda Logan, took place as Raleigh has been the scene of several homicides in the recent weeks. Those slayings include the fatal shooting of popular Whitehaven community advocate Dr. Yvonne Nelson on Aug. 13.
Tifanee Wright, 33, sought on a second-degree murder warrant for the slaying, was arrested Tuesday (Aug. 23) by U.S. Marshals Two Rivers Violent Fugitive Task Force. Police said Nelson was slain during an argument over money.
Logan called the meeting with constituents to push back on the string of violence crimes being committed by minors.
“There are things we can do to fight back against the rising tide of youth crime,” said Logan. “We refuse to be held hostage in our own homes and in our communities.
“The problem comes down to parenting. If parents refuse to do their job, we will hold them accountable for what their children do,” Logan said.
A panel of officials and law enforcement officers cited strong enforcement of curfews that already are in place, holding parents accountable for their children, and reporting truancy, loitering and other lawless acts by youth during school hours and later will be effective in the short-term.
“We’ve got to take action now,” said Parkinson. “Juveniles are committing violent car jackings, shooting guns up and down the street, and pulling guns on people for cash.
“We’ll hold parents accountable, along with those minors. The loss of state aid is one major consequence we are looking at. There would be no assistance in households where parents aren’t doing their job,” Parkinson said
Loitering and nuisance ordinances are already in place. Logan encouraged residents to report loitering in front of stores and other businesses, as well as truancy when a child is seen on the street during school hours.
“Certain locations where criminal acts continue to happen can be closed, declared a nuisance,” said Logan.
Memphis Police Deputy Chief Paul Wright said violent crime is not just a police issue.
“They are community issues. And the only way to solve them is by working together. Trying to lock everybody up is not going to work. It has not worked. We need good programs, mentoring, and raising accountability,” Wright said.
Raleigh residents expressed approval of stronger enforcement of curfews, truancy laws, loitering ordinances, concurring that it is time for action.
Charles Braden said seniors in certain areas of Raleigh are now afraid to come out in the evening because of what “some of these young boys are doing.”
He continued, “I’m a senior myself, and it’s just a shame the way these young boys are just roaming the streets. They are up to no good. I think they are just walking around looking for somebody to rob. Life is really no value to them. Some of them will shoot you just as soon as look at you. I’ve never seen crime this bad.”
Logan said more patrols are needed in Raleigh, and that the possibility of having more Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers assist Memphis police will be explored.
A letter will be sent to Homeland Security regarding the matter. However, Logan said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland already has requested that THP assist in patrolling Memphis interstates.
Logan said more patrols in Raleigh would prevent people from coming in and committing crimes and then immediately getting out of the area.
The Memphis City Council will ask MPD to begin strongly enforcing city curfews. Monday through Thursday, minors 16 and under should be in by 10 p.m. Youth 17 and 18 should be in by 11 p.m.
Friday through Sunday, curfew is one hour later for each group.
“I’ve been saying the same thing for the longest,” said Betty Jamerson. “If we start putting some neglect charges on these parents, I bet they’ll care where their children are after curfew. I believe the threat of losing state aid will get their attention, too. But if paying fines and seeing jail time are possibilities, I know we’ll see some changes for the better.”
An anonymous tip line will be created to report crime, truancy, and loitering in Raleigh, Logan said.