- Written by Nona N. Allen/Special to the New Tri-State Defender
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With each passing day, the local news features story after story about gun crimes in our city. Memphis Mayor, A.C. Wharton Jr. and his latest initiative, Memphis Gun Down are saying, “Enough is Enough!”
The Memphis Gun Down program is a five pronged approach to fight gun violence and make the streets of Memphis safer for all citizens. Suppression, community mobilization, youth opportunities, intervention, and organizational change and development are the steps this plan is taking to curb Memphis violence. The ultimate goal of Memphis Gun Down is to decrease gun violence by 10% city-wide and by 20% in South Memphis and Frayser.
A highlight of this innovative initiative is the Safe Summer plan to be realized through Summer Night Lights. Research shows that youth engage in violent and criminal activities more during the summer months. Modeled after a similar successful program in Los Angeles, California, Summer Night Lights runs from June through August.
Memphis Gun Down Safe Summer events provide positive, youth centered activities during peak violence times. Safety at each activity will be maintained by MPD and the 901 BLOC Squad. The events include Celebrity Pop-Ups, Midnight Basketball tournaments, and Summer Night Lights.
The program hosted its first Celebrity Pop-Up event on June 14th at Pine Hill Community Center and Golf Course. The mayor addressed the crowd and stressed the importance of engaging young people in activities that they will enjoy and creating a safe environment for them. Future Celebrity Pop-Up Events will be at Ed Rice Community Center (July 12th), Westwood Community Center (July 19th), and Hollywood Community Center (August 2nd). All of these events run from 4 pm – 6 pm. There will be some awesome “celebrity” entertainment. Stay tuned for more details on who the celebrities will be.
Beginning Saturday, June 22nd, the Memphis Gun Down program, in conjunction with the Memphis Grizzlies and Memphis Athletic Ministries (MAM) will host Midnight Basketball at the MAM Grizzlies Center located at 2107 Ball Road. This summer tournament series will feature FREE 5 on 5 Double Elimination tournaments for males ages 16 – 20. Individuals, teams, and fans in the stands are invited to participate. Registration is available online at http://www.memphisgundown.org. All registered individuals and teams must arrive by 6:45 p.m. Additionally, the evening will feature video games, aerobics, and other activities to get the whole family involved. Free healthy snacks will also be provided. Other dates for the Midnight Basketball Summer Series are: June 29th, July 13th, July 20th, July 27th and August 3rd. The fun lasts from 6:30 pm to 11:00 pm each night.
Summer Night Lights
Ed Rice Community Center & Park will be the Friday night hang-out spot for the summer! On July 12th, MGD will kick-off the first in a series of Summer Night Lights (SNL) events. SNL will feature a big screen movie viewing, basketball, games, a free cook-out on the lawn, and fun for the entire family! The dates other dates for the SNL events are July 19th, July 26th and August 2nd. This summer proves to be a fun-filled way that we, as a city, can take positive steps to prevent gun violence. For more information, please visit www. memphisgundown.org.