Memphis peace promoters condemn ‘atrocious’ violence, encourage conflict resolution

Memphis peace promoters condemn ‘atrocious’ violence, encourage conflict resolution
Members of Campaign Nonviolence Memphis march in a parade in 2017. (Smith, Courtney)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - An organization is calling on Memphis residents to promote peace after a string of violence.

“I think we’re close to having our own Pulse nightclub shooting,” MPD Director Mike Rallings told reporters when asked about Monday’s Purple Haze nightclub shooting that injured nine people. Four of those hurt suffered gunshot wounds in the attack.

Two people were killed in the wee hours of Tuesday morning in a triple shooting in a Tipton County field.

A 15-year-old Shelby County Schools student was injured Monday when someone took a shot at her school bus.

These stories about sudden bursts of gun violence are the very latest examples of how random, rampant violence permanently changes or ends lives right here in the Mid-South.

“It’s about conflict resolution,” said Paul Crum, one of the leaders of the Campaign Non-Violence (CNV) Memphis: Week of Action. “The level of violence we witness – just in the past two or three days for instance – is atrocious.”

The Campaign Non-Violence will present its annual week of programming September 17-22. The events are aimed at avoiding violence like the recent bloodshed mentioned above while helping to create an environment where peace flourishes in the Bluff City.

“Seventy percent of all homicides occur among people who know each other, so 70 percent of this violence could be eliminated if we had conflict resolution skills taught in the broader community,” said Crum.

The Memphian has devoted years working to advance the mission of Pax Christi, the Catholic Peace Movement, and organizations like CNV.

“I read somewhere that FBI data reveals that 70 percent of homicides occur among parties known to one another, and it started me thinking about conflict resolution. If 70 percent of those violent crimes could have been avoided, we should be doing everything we can to make sure people acquire those kinds of skills -- and where better to start than in school?” Crum wondered.

To that end, the National Civil Rights Museum will host a session at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 18 titled, “Restorative Justice & Nonviolent Conflict Resolution in the Classroom.”

Dr. Randy McPherson of Shelby County Schools developed a program to help students avoid conflict. The presentation will feature the history, benefits and practicality of restorative justice practices.

The presentation will feature the history, benefits and practicality of restorative justice practices. It will also feature LeTicia Taylor, a Restorative Practices Trainer, and Rod Peterson, Principal at Oakhaven Middle School.

“It has been shown that learning conflict resolution not only reduces the level of violence and the need for extreme disciplinary action in schools, but academic scores actually increase because the students are learning problem solving skills," Crum said. “It’s a win-win situation.”

“We seek to create a culture of nonviolence by understanding the interconnectedness of poverty, racism, war and environmental destruction,” said Dr. Monica Juma, the physician who’s serving as CNV chairperson for a second consecutive year. “We seek to tap into the infinite potential of nonviolence to address these injustices to ultimately create the beloved community. We hope people are inspired and energized to promote nonviolence and to work to strengthen our community.”

The Campaign Non-Violence will present its annual week of programming September 17-22. The events are aimed at avoiding violence like the recent bloodshed via education and encouragement while helping to create an environment where peace flourishes in the Bluff City.

The CNV’s Memphis Week of Action kicks off at Crosstown Concourse at 6 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 17 with the training director of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center. Gio Lopez, a native of Peru who has studied and performed in theatre from Costa Rica to Memphis, will focus on Nonviolent Communication Training.

On Wednesday, Sept. 19, the Paradiso Theatre at 584 South Mendenhall will present “Pope Francis: A Man of His Word,” a documentary film about the Holy Father’s answers to today’s global questions on social justice, immigration, ecology, death, wealth inequality, materialism and the role of the family.

The film starts at 6:30 p.m. but advance ticket purchase is required through St. Peter Church. You can call St. Peter’s church office with questions about the film and tickets at (901) 527-8282.

On Thursday, Sept. 20, you’re invited to bring your lawn chair and sing your favorite songs of peace and love at Bartlett’s Freeman Park, 2629 Bartlett Boulevard, starting at 6:30 p.m. “Music for a Non-Violent World” will be presented at the park’s gazebo. If you’re a performer, you’re invited to participate. Contact Paul Crum or call (901) 266-2464.

On Friday, Sept. 21, the International Day of Peace as designated by the United Nations, those seeking peace through yoga will gather for “109 Sun Salutations for Peace, Enlightenment, at Non-Violence” at 6 p.m. at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, 8245 Getwell Road in Southaven, Mississippi. Organizers ask you to bring a yoga towel and a loving heart and let them know in advance if you’re bringing a group. Their number is (9662) 393-3100.

On Saturday, Sept. 22, a Drum Circle for Peace and Non-Violence will bang the drums at 2 p.m. in Overton Park near the Levitt Shell Walking Path.

Another drum circle will gather at Overton Park at the Veteran’s Memorial at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 23 with a Mindfulness Walk at 4 p.m.

Later in the month, the Memphis Peace Conference takes place at the Withers Collection Museum and Gallery at 333 Beale Street from 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29.

On Sunday, Sept. 30 a Presentation and Interfaith Candlelight Vigil will take place at the National Civil Rights Museum starting at 5p.m. with prayers at 6 p.m.

The CNV Pledge is as follows:

I solemnly pledge to take a stand against violence and help build a culture of active non-violence. I will strive to: practice nonviolence toward myself. Practice nonviolence toward all others. Practice nonviolence by joining the global movement to abolish war, end poverty, stop the destruction of the earth and foster a just and peaceful world for all.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris both signed a proclamation calling for a week of nonviolence September 15-23:

Whereas the City of Memphis, the County of Shelby, the State of Tennessee and our entire nation continue to confront the challenges of violence due to the effects of poverty, hunger, racism, brutality, domestic violence and other forms of inhumanity, and Whereas an awareness and practice of nonviolent principles and practices is a powerful way to heal and transform our lives and communities, to recognize the dignity and worth of every human being, and to promote peace and harmony, among all peoples regardless of race, color, culture, class, language, faith, age, gender identity, immigration status and other apparent differences: the principles and practices of such were epitomized in the lives and work of two international leaders: Mahatma Mohandas K Gandhi and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Whereas in order to achieve a world of nonviolence, all of society will need to participate and make a commitment: Campaign Nonviolence Memphis Week is a part of a national movement, Campaign Nonviolence, that fosters a culture of peace, free from war, poverty, racism, environmental destruction and the epidemic of violence, and Whereas we, in Memphis, renowned worldwide for the nonviolent legacy left by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will join cities and towns in all 50 states and nations around the world with marches, vigils, and rallies in hope of building a culture of peace and nonviolence. 
Now, Therefore, Jim Strickland, Mayor of the City of Memphis and Lee Harris, Mayor of Shelby County. In witness, whererof, I have hereunto set my and hand and caused the seal of the City of Memphis to be affixed this 15th day of September 2018. 
– Jim Strickland, Mayor of the City of Memphis
In witness, whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of Shelby County to be affixed this 15th day of September 2018. 
– Lee Harris, Mayor of Shelby County

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