MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The city of Memphis reached a staggering milestone this week by breaking the all time homicide record set back in 2016.
This time last year the city had recorded 129 murders compared to 205 this year. All homicides are not necessarily recorded as murders.
Memphis police said of those killed so far this year 26 have been children. Police said four were accidental, two were justifiable and eight of the killings remain unsolved.
To date, July was the deadliest month on record with 43 homicides. The previous record for a month was 29. In July 2019, there were 15 recorded homicides, MPD said.
Memphis Police Association President Mike Williams called the number astronomical.
“The highest number we have ever recorded was in 2017, where in one month we had 29 homicides. So for the month of July we had 43,” he said. “When you talk about a city of 660,000 people, that is what keeps propelling us to the second or third most violent city in the nation per capita.”
He also attributed much of the violence to growing social unrest, unemployment and the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think all of it’s a contributing factor,” Williams said, “The stars lining up but lining up for bad.”
The police union says officers are stretched thin, with an overload of cases.
Williams said having more police, who are allowed to adequately police the street, and getting the community to report what they see are the keys to getting a handle on crime before it’s truly out of control.
LaDell Beamon, the CEO of Heal the Hood Foundation, said he has a personal connection to four of the 26 children that were killed this year.
“It was devastating for us because we were trying to reach the parents and tell the parents how extremely important it is to keep these kids engaged,” Beamon said. “And their parents didn’t know where their kids were, they didn’t know where he was. I was picking him up from different houses when he would call me, so we lived firsthand what’s going on with these kids.”
Beamon’s team is now looking to break ground on a Hero Empowerment Center in Hickory Hill next year.
The foundation was gifted more than seven acres off Ridgeway Road by an anonymous donor the plan is to build an arts center with a 4-D theater, rooftop garden, comic studio, restaurant and other attractions, to give kids a needed outlet.
“It’s going to be something very exciting for Memphis, and it’s going to change the atmosphere,” Beamon said.
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