“Memphis, things have to change:” Officials discuss child murders, violence in the community

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — 18 children violently taken this year in Memphis.

Police said 14 were murdered.

In those murders, suspects have been arrested or identified in six cases and eight are still ongoing investigations, according to police.

Police said it takes more than law enforcement to solve the crimes.

“Two years old, 3-years-old, 5, 6, I can go on,” said Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings.

Rallings listed the ages of some of the children murdered this year in Memphis.

These are some of the faces.

10-year-old Jadon Knox was killed in a drive-by shooting Jan. 19 while standing on the porch.

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These are bullet holes from a separate shooting hours later.

It took the lives of 16-year-old Laquon Boyd and his 6-year-old niece Ashland Luckett.

“Where are the meetings and conversations and protests for these victims,” Rallings said. “Where’s the outrage, the passion for finding criminals who are responsible? Why isn’t CrimeStoppers being overrun with phone calls?”

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Rallings said so far there have been 120 murders this year in Memphis.

Although he agrees police reform is inevitable and change must happen, he said the conversation must involve more than police taking action.

“We need more people to fight for change through legislation and responsible gun laws,” Rallings said. “We need more parents to get involved with the lives of their children. We need more churches to open their doors and provide counseling and training opportunities for citizens such as relationship building.”

“When we lose a child before they even know what life is and can take advantage of what is out there is almost unbearable,” said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.

Rallings said out of the 120 murders this year, 108 of the victims were African American, six were white, five were Hispanic and one was Asian.

At least 34 of the murders involved a victim or suspect who is a known gang member, 11 involved domestic violence and 53 were committed by someone the victim knew.

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“Something is wrong,” Rallings said.

Rallings said Memphis is on track to break the 2016 number of homicides if the city continues at this rate of violence.

Twenty-six people were shot over the 4th of July weekend.

Rallings urged members of the community to get more involved in stopping the violence and to support the police in this effort.

Rallings said the police department is grossly understaffed and needs more officers to respond to the call for service.

In February, Ralllings met with about 120 pastors and begged them to get involved.

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He spoke about Pastor Bill Adkins of Raleigh and his concerns.

“We’ve become hypocritical when we don’t show the same level of concern for little innocent children who are shot by stray bullets,” Adkins said.

Adkins of Greater Imani Church in Raleigh was reacting to Strickland and Rallings making a call to action.

“We’ve got to cry as much for these children as we did for George Floyd,” Adkins said. “Both are the same to me. Both tragic losses.”

Rallings said the department responds to one-million calls a year, provides mentorship programs and helps people at community centers and schools.

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He said police can’t do it all without your support, especially when the city has already seen 120 murders this year.

“Something is wrong, and as I said before, things have got to change,” Rallings said. “If we continue on this rate, we will break the record of the 2016 record of homicides.”

He says neighborhood watch programs are vital too.

“Without a commitment from the community, we cannot make the change that Memphis desperately needs,” Rallings said.