IS THIS MEMPHIS?
The last couple of weeks have been very hard in Memphis. We have been on national and international news for all the wrong reasons. Murders happen here, just as in other big cities and even out in the suburbs across the country. In my opinion, there are several reasons.
First of all, guns are just way to easy to get. Any 18 year old can go into a store and buy one. (Yet they can't go into a store and legally buy alcohol.) And if they don't go buy a gun, they can easily steal one or get one on the black market. In this state, no one needs a permit to carry a weapon. There are no extensive background checks. It is just too easy.
Secondly, so many children grow up without a role model. Some single moms do a great job while others are struggling with poverty and how they are going to get food on the table and a roof over their head (and all of this with 4 or more little ones running around). This is where I totally believe in mandatory Pre-K programs. At least they are in schools being taught social skills and early academics. Schools can't do it all alone. It really takes home supervision and curfews.
When small, petty crimes take place have strict punishment. Vandalism, shoplifting, or stealing in the schools or neighborhood should have consequences. I am talking community services - so many hours for the crime. Teaching early that crime has consequences surely would send a strong message to most.
Then, when the crimes become more severe and involves Juvenile Courts, there should be programs in the quarters for some academic time and also for rehabilitation time. Many of these children do not have empathy. They have never known it. In the Memphis area, as well as other cities, they turn to gangs. They feel a part of something. It does not matter if it is good or bad, it simply means they belong to something. This is not where empathy is learned.
Let me ask you if you have ever been sequestered in a court case as a juror for a murder case? I have. It was horrible. I saw these teenagers being called up to testify how to become a gang member. They had to kill a rival gang member. They spoke as if killing a human being was nothing more than stepping on a bug to squash him out. If that was not enough to open the jurors' eyes, we learned that this was not the first time they had been through the doors of Juvenile Court. It truly did and still does seem to be a "revolving door!" Now they were in 201 Poplar.
Who knows? If while they were in Juvenile Detention, perhaps they could have been saved from going through and causing all of the pain to so many families. I know that as jurors, we were stared at by the accused as if they wanted to come after us. One young man, even with shackles on and handcuffs started to ram himself into one of the guards and they escorted the jurors out on the other side quickly. It was quite scary. We were there for a week. Breakfast and lunch served to us there, while each night we were escorted out to a van by two guards and taken to nice restaurants to eat. We just could not talk to anyone in the restaurant. Once sequestered, we had to turn over our cell phones, our hotel rooms had no radio and no tv. If a juror wanted to read, the book(s) had to be approved. No books on crime scenes, etc. To be honest, I felt like I was in prison.
Once the lawyers were finished with their cases, we the jurors were sent to deliberate. I thought it was cut and dry. Wow, was I wrong. There were people on the jury who felt sorry for these gang wanna-be boys. I did feel sorry, but not to the extent of opening the door and letting them free to go and do it again.
This is what we have just had in Memphis. It was a week like none other here. And in both circumstances, Eliza, a teacher and mother of two young children out for a morning jog, kidnapped and murdered by a man who had kidnapped before, served some but not all of his time and then got out just to rape again and had not been charged, even with DNA evidence. He should have been behind bars. Just as this was going on there was another man who decided to carjack cars and go on a wild shooting spree. He was out with a warrant for his arrest for first degree murder. My question is why was he out? He ended up carjacking several cars, shooting 6 random people all over the city, 3 of which died, and our amazing police, sheriffs, FBI and TBI officers were still working on Eliza's case of where the murderer hid her body.
So this is 901 - Memphis, TN. Yes, it is. We need to embrace it. We need to work together in a spirit like none other before. Things can't change if we don't make it happen. We can't be in denial. Just remember that it is all not just here in our city. A man hijacked a small plane and threatened to fly into a Walmart in a small city in MS. He was not even a pilot. (Luckily they did get him down safely). Suburbs of larger cities, such as Memphis, Chicago, New York City, and others have had major crime activities too. Memphis could be the start of a new era trying new ways.
The saying that, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results," from Albert Einstein is so true. We must not let this just pass. Let's go to work now.
Through social media, a run in Memphis a week after Eliza took her last jog was scheduled to take place. About 100 were expected. Instead, it was more like 1000 and it was not just in Memphis. Joggers around the country did this very same thing. As tired and as overwhelmed as our police and sheriff officers were, they rode along on bicycles and flew in a helicopter overhead to be sure all were safe.
My plea is to not let this be the end. Let's get busy changing our ways of doing things to stop this kind of violence. I love Memphis and it really does upset me when I hear others say they are moving out due to all of the violence. My question is where are you going to get away from it all?
Instead, let's put our spirits together to try to change things for the better.
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