‘It’s going to take a sledgehammer approach’: Memphis pastor pushes for change as gun violence plagues the city

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Families are coping after four people were killed in shootings across the city.

Pastor Deandre Brown leads Lifeline to Success, a nonprofit working to help former felons get back on the right track. He says waking up to the news four people in Memphis lost their life to gun violence is heartbreaking, frustrating and disappointing.

“This is not something that you can fix with words. It’s going to take a sledgehammer approach. We’re going to have to bust up everything that we consider to be normal and start over,” Brown said. “It’s going to take some real culture shifting. It’s going to take us saying that we no longer accept it but not only that, it’s showing these young men a different path.”

This map shows where those shootings took place in a three-hour period. 

Unfortunately the alarming loss of life is similar to what we saw last year, with more than 330 homicides in the city. 

“If people look at 300, they never consider that most of those had multiple suspects. So if you had two per offense, that’s another 600 people,” Brown said. That’s almost 1,000 people we’re going to lose from the community at the end of the day. You cannot sustain that and have a thriving community.”

Brown says he will be speaking to inmates at prisons and jails this summer. His push for change comes as the city welcomes Cerelyn “CJ” Davis as the new police chief next week.

He hopes she works to find out what’s going on in neighborhoods. 

“You need to meet with the people that understand,” Brown said. “Going to a big church is great, but the murders aren’t in a big church. If you want to find out where the murders happen, come to the corner store where someone is working in the community. You have to get in this.”

Crime Stoppers has now increased their reward for information on crimes to $2,000. The number to call is 901-528-CASH.

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