Former gang member fighting crime and gun violence head-on

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Violence is plaguing Memphis.

2020 was the deadliest year in Memphis history. Six months into 2021, we’re on pace to shatter that record.

The Memphis City Council just approved the budget to bring $2 million to help fund a program aimed at tackling violence and cutting down on crime in Memphis.

Delvin Lane, the founder of 901 BLOC Squad, says he’s joining forces with the Group Violence Intervention program.

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He says this program will bring together leaders, law enforcement, and other government agencies from all over the city to work together to cut crime.

Delvin Lane is a former gang member who knows all too well the violence in his hometown is out of control. So he’s often at crime scenes as police work to find out what happened.  

After turning his life around, Lane got his master’s degree and starting coaching the football team at Raleigh-Egypt High School. He now helps others turn from a life of crime as the Community Violence Intervention Coordinator at 901 BLOC Squad.

“I mean, just having the support from the city and all of these other organizations is awesome because we know we have a crime problem here in Memphis, and our youth need opportunities to have a chance to do the right thing,” Lane told FOX13. “I think all of these organizations coming together will give them a chance to see life.”

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He’s teamed up with the City and other government leaders, law enforcement officers, non-profits, and anti-violence organizations to help fight crime. Part of the Group Violence Intervention Program, or GVIP for short, shows people there is another way, a better way that is exactly what BLOC stands for Better Lives, Opportunities, and Communities.

“That money will add more manpower to our team. It will more than double our team, help us with much-needed resources, get our kids transportation, clothing - the stuff they need,” said Lane. “What we are trying to do is take away all the excuses so we will have everything they need to succeed. A lot of our kids haven’t been taught the right thing. There are people out there putting drugs in their hands, guns in their hands. We want to show them there is a different way. You go to school. You get educated, you get a job, you can be successful. You don’t have to have that illusion of the street life because the street life is going to paint an illusion that fast money equals a good life. That’s not true. Fast money equals jail and death,” said Lane.

He says it’s not surprising that violence is at an all-time record high.

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“It’s not surprising to me that gun violence is up because the pinpoint accuracy isn’t being put on the root cause. The root cause is, it’s not gangs or drugs. It’s kids not being able to deal with conflict and kids having access to weapons. When you have access to weapons and don’t know how to deal with conflict, people are going to get shot and we’ve gotta be able to stop that.” Lane said.

Lane says we must take guns out of the hands of kids and teach them life lessons.

“Take away the guns. Teach the kids how to deal with conflict, and that’s exactly what we do,” he said. “I hope this brings life to our city and gives our kid’s a chance to live and a chance to grow old.”

Lane says helping cut crime is what he’s been doing since 2012. Now it’s just about bringing schools, hospitals, and the streets together to work together.