Chickasaw Garden residents show up in full force to demand more policing - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Kontji Anthony and Syan Rhodes

Chickasaw Garden residents show up in full force to demand more policing

Angry Chickasaw Gardens residents fill the corridor outside a council committee room Angry Chickasaw Gardens residents fill the corridor outside a council committee room

More than 100 people showed up at today's Memphis City Council meeting with a cry for help to take back their neighborhood.

Today's rally at City Hall comes after a woman and child were assaulted inside their home by two armed men.

The people came in droves. About 150 people walked through the doors, demanding the city make crime its number one priority.

They left their homes and jobs to share their outrage.

"What happened to a woman that is a friend of ours is only a fraction of what is going on in this town," said the victim's friend, Mia Hilly.

Friends and neighbors of the Chickasaw Gardens-area woman, robbed and raped while her son was in the house, converged on the city council to demand protection.

"The protection of my family, or everyone's family is the most basic of human rights. We must preserve it," said neighbor Robert Covington.

The forum wasn't on the agenda.

As city council members arrived for a committee meeting, people began filling the hallway.

"We've never, ever had a hallway full of people like this," said Council member Jack Sammons.

As the halls swelled, the meeting moved to full council chambers.

Many say they feel terrorized in their own communities.

"Our leadership has really failed. They have failed the citizens. The number one responsibility of our elected officials is to find a safe place for citizens to live and work," said the victim's friend Elizabeth Norman.

Norman says the solution begins at the top.

"It has really got to start with the mayor's office. Mayor Herenton has got to support our police department."

After nearly two hours of talks, the people and the council mobilized a grass roots. Neighbors are putting together phone lists and an email network. They're also planning an effort to reach out to lawmakers in Nashville for help.

"I think what we saw today was a demonstration of outrage by community members, community leaders that are saying, 'I'm mad as all getout and I'm not gonna take it anymore'," said Sammons. "We've gotta get more boots on the ground, we've gotta find money to fund police officers. We've gotta press the HR department to make the hires."

The police department has reportedly been having trouble recruiting 150 new police officers

"We sit here as a council and say we don't have the money, we can't give these police officers a raise, but then you come in wanting me to vote for $29 million for a boat dock," said Councilman E.C. Jones.

He says the city needs to evaluate every position in the police department. "If he has able-bodied officers sitting up here in some office that a civilian could dob, to put those police officers back out on the street and hire a civilian who is not a commissioned police officer."

Added Carol Chumney, "I think you do deserve more from your city for the tax dollars that you pay and I think you should hold folks accountable when they don't get the job done."


The suspects:

Memphis Police tell us the woman and her son were not targeted, but that the two suspects were simply driving through the neighborhood looking to commit a burglary.

A recent increase in burglaries in the Chickasaw Gardens neighborhood is the reason there have been stepped up police patrols in that area.

In fact, Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin said today a squad car had driven down that street not five to ten minutes before this crime was committed Friday afternoon.

Marchello Hurst is now officially charged with rape, burglary and two counts of aggravated robbery.

This morning a judge set his bond at $200,000 and ordered he undergo an H-I-V test.

Memphis Police tracked down Hurst, just 12 hours after the crime was reported, thanks to a cell phone signal.

Hurst and another man reportedly used a cell phone to brag about what they were doing while they were still in the woman's home.

A cell phone company worked with police and when that signal was used again, it lead them to Hurst, who police say has confessed.

That's just one example of how aggressively police are working this case.

Tonight, police have their sights set on finding the second suspect.

Director Godwin says they know who he is and they will get him very soon.

"We're using every resource available, all the way to our undercover officers, every undercover officer's on it right now they're hitting everyone of their contacts in the way that they do things any and everything that we can do to get this individual in custody as quickly as possible we're going to do," said Godwin.

Director Godwin also says he hopes to get charges against these suspects bumped up to the federal level because of their prior records and the fact that a gun was used to commit this crime.


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