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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

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Rev. Ralph White: ‘We’ve got to have a plan’ on gun violence

‘We can’t just deal with crime. We’re dealing with education, jobs, training . . . The crime is just an aftereffect of a greater cause.’
— Rev. Ralph White
(Photo: George S. Tillman)

The Rev. Ralph White got a call on Tuesday asking him to make his way to the Riverview Community Center for the vigil being planned that night for 10-year-old Richard Jordan II, who had been killed the day before during a drive-by shooting at the Airways-Ketchum intersection.

White told the caller that it was time “that we really look at what is happening. It’s not just the grown-ups that are involved and killing our race off. It’s what we are doing to our children. Those babies are innocent and being killed as a reflection of the foolishness that is taking place by grown folks.”

The rejoinder was agreement, said White, adding, of course, that people need to be in church.

There was prayer Tuesday night among the mass of people who turned out, with a special emphasis on heavenly strength for the comfort of little Richard Jordan II’s family.

The family lived near the Riverview center. The person who called White was a member of  the church White pastors – Bloomfield Full Gospel Baptist Church – and a friend of the mother whose 10 year old was killed. Soon after entering the center, White was made aware that the mother’s boyfriend was a young man he had helped years ago.

Police still are investigating Monday’s multiple shooting and the resulting homicide. No matter what the particulars turn out to be, it is very tragic, White said.

In June, two-year-old Laylah Washington was killed during a road-rage shooting. Since then, White and others have been driving a root-level push for a sustained and comprehensive plan of action. The effort involves coordinating with churches in various neighborhoods, and having volunteers take a hands-on approach in Memphis’ most crime-ridden areas.

Already this week, White said he has fielded calls from groups wanting to get involved with something other than another meeting about “what ought to be done” and desirous of “putting some hands and legs on the problem.”

On Monday comes another opportunity to take another step forward. A meeting is planned for 6 p.m. at Bloomfield located at 123 S. Parkway West.

“There are several pieces. We can’t just deal with crime,” White said. “We are dealing with education, we’re dealing with jobs, training …things like that…a whole package. The crime is just an aftereffect of a greater cause…

“Our education system is failing and we expect children in a failing education system to grow up and be able to compete in this universal market …”

The community must come together to categorize and package its resources, White said.

“It’s more than a notion and where we are, we didn’t get here overnight and we’re not going to get out of this hole overnight either. We’ve got to have an agenda and we’ve got to have a plan. That’s what we are working out.”

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