Our friend, Pastor DeAndre Brown, executive director of Lifeline to Success, an exemplary reentry program, read the following statement at a rally today in response to the first murder in Frayser. DeAndre is a powerful advocate for an end to violence in Memphis so we’re posting his call to action here:
Here we are, yet again, standing at the scene of another murder in our city. This has become too common, but we cannot allow it to become normal.
We stand here today and say, “We refuse to accept this as normal.” We determine the direction that our neighborhoods will head in. We determine what will be accepted. We determine the culture! Edmund Burke said it best, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”.
We have learned that the criminal element is one thing: Committed.
Criminals are committed to wreaking havoc among the law abiding citizens that only want to feel safe in their communities. While the criminals may not have true relationships with each other, their behaviors are being displayed in concert. Violence has become expected. But we refuse to say it is normal.
Many times we have felt helpless like there is nothing that we can do. I refuse to accept that. We can do something. There are several things that the community can do. They are simple, yet require much courage.
One thing that we can do is become visible. Come back outside. Sit on the porch. You don’t have to engage with anyone. Just be visible. Criminals look for opportunity. Presence is a deterrent. Walk to the mailbox. Rake your leaves. Pick up paper around your yard during times people are outside. By being consistent, you prove that your space isn’t available for pillage.
Grab 1: Mentoring has become a highly effective method in assisting young people with making better choices. Many times, we are asking people to mentor strangers. That can be very unappealing and frightening.
I have a different approach. I challenge you to grab one of your family members that could benefit from your presence. Grab that nephew, cousin, brother- or even your estranged son, and begin to develop a relationship of accountability. And YOU take responsibility for that boy. You monitor his behavior. You give him sound advice. You provide him with praise and correction on the foundation of the relationship that you will build.
Community leaders: If you have a program or if you are working with people, we need to meet you. We need your information. No effort is too small. Please contact us so that we can begin to unify and get a grip on this epidemic. We can no longer afford to compete and criticize while people are dying in the street!
To the planners and academics: When you come to us and ask, “Why do they behave this way” you reveal 2 things: you bias and your ignorance. While neither of them is a disqualifier, to ignore them is. We have not become so educated that we know what we don’t know or that we can outthink our biases. That is dangerous and causes more harm than good. Poor does not equal a lack of intelligence. We know what we need. Just ask without trying to “help us think.” We are capable. The answers are already here. We just need to be appreciated and valued.
To those that feel like there is no hope, today, we offer you hope. Your life is worth living. You have value. You have so much value that we want to extend ourselves to you and offer you a different life. Our arms are open. And we want nothing in return. The streets are no longer a safehaven. The rules have changed and there is no order. Allow us to provide you a way out of the madness. Your life is worth living! Tomorrow can be better. Please, allow us to walk with you. We stand here, today, in unity, saying we are here for you!
To those that refuse to behave in a manner that the community feels is acceptable, we will no longer allow you free reign. You will be held accountable. Citizens, if you see something, say something. We can no longer allow the criminal culture to be standard operation.
Good citizens are good neighbors and we watch out for each other. Stop harboring evil. Stop being a part of the madness. Stop being a victim. Let’s stop it!
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