City and community leaders have had enough with gun violence on the streets of Memphis. They call their plan "Memphis Gun Down," a five-part attack on gun violence.
"Now's the time to say, 'Enough.' So just take on your individual causes and say, 'This is what I'll do. I can't change the world but I can change my house, I can change my family, my street,'" Mayor A C Wharton said Sunday as he pitched the plan to churches.
MORE: Memphis initiative targets gun violence prevention
MORE: Churches preach 'Memphis Gun Down' plan
The plan is a comprehensive approach to fighting the gun violence that couples traditional police work with community based efforts to fight the violence.
Part 1: "Suppression" City leaders want to focus law enforcement efforts on criminals who use guns to commit crimes.
The Memphis Police Department is redoubling its efforts to get guns off the street. Task force officers in each of the city's police precincts are taking the fight to the criminals. In the Old Allen Station they've already taken nearly 50 guns off the street.
"Based on what the mayor is trying to do with his five-point plan and considering everything that is going around in the country with the mass shootings and this sort of thing, there is a renewed effort to try and get as many guns off the street as we possibly can," Old Station Commander Col. Frank Garrett said.
Part 2: "Intervention" City leaders want to work in communities to prevent violence before it happens.
Members of the 901 BLOC Squad are working in communities to try and convince young gang members to renounce the violence. BLOC stands for "Better Lives, Opportunities and Communities." Many of the group's members are former gang members themselves.
"They're ready, they're like 'When you coming? When you coming? When is the BLOC Squad coming to my street?' So that is a pressure but I'm very happy to see that the community is willing to be involved with us and to help support the 901 BLOC squad," team member Trevon Toney said.
Part 3: "Community Mobilization" City leaders want to change the culture and acceptance of violence in communities around the city.
The city is working to mobilize churches and encourage congregations to stand against the violence. Pastor Ralph White of Bloomfield Baptist Church has been working to stem the violence for more than 5 years with his program called "God So Loved." He says he's on board with the city's efforts.
"They're seeing that this is successful. So now they're doing these kinds of programs and we're with them, we'll work with them also but just fortunately we got the message a long time ago," Pastor White said.
Part 4: "Youth Opportunities" City leaders want to provide opportunities for teenagers and young people so they don't turn to crime and violence.
Students from high schools around the city are working to promote the Memphis Gun Down plan. The group is called the Mayor's Youth Social Media Team.
"We are the youth and it's really affecting us," said Ayana Hardy. "Qe are the future of this city and this nation so it's really important for us to get the word out."
Part 5: "Organizational Change and Development" City leaders want to work to pass new laws and change policies and practices to help deter gun crimes.
Lawmakers are working to pass new laws at the state level to crack down on criminals who use guns to commit crimes.
"We're losing children to gun violence every day," Tennessee State Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis) said. "Our citizens are deeply concerned. Crime is a challenge for us right now and we have to find solutions, sensible solutions that will go to the very core of these crime issues."
WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
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