Crime the focus of Wharton's 1st town hall meeting as Memphis Mayor - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Crime the focus of Wharton's 1st town hall meeting as Memphis Mayor

By Jason Miles - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Two weeks ago, crime scene tape surrounded the bloody clothes of a teenager who was murdered on the streets of Memphis.  He lost his life while walking home from school.

"Not too much changed," Ronald Baldridge said.

Baldridge was put in a wheelchair after a similar crime back in 1985.

"I was a member of the Gangster Disciples as an enforcer and I got shot," he said.

Baldridge was among those packing the fellowship hall of Breath of Life Christian Church Monday night to hear what A C Wharton had to say during his first town hall meeting as Memphis Mayor.  

"We are really concerned about what we can do to stem the tide of what's happening with our young people, for obvious reasons," Wharton told the crowd.

A recent rash of violent crimes involving teens in the Frayser and Raleigh areas prompted Wharton to hold his inaugural meeting there.

"I'm a neighborhood watch captain," one attendee told Wharton.

The mayor said he was more interested in listening, than speaking, about the crime problem.

"Why our young men involved in gangs?" asked another concerned Memphian.  "Why our young men selling drugs? Why our young men using drugs?"

Wharton said the solutions lie far from Memphis City Hall.

"Not things we come up with, but what we get from you," he said. 

Everyone seemed to agree that stopping youth violence starts at home and in communities where plenty of positive energy still exists.

"Even if you can bake a cake," said one man, "why don't you teach somebody the things you know?"

While many admitted change may be slow, they left the meeting believing it is possible.

Wharton mentioned the formation of what are known as "community councils."  He hopes state lawmakers can help create a gun offender registry and even a special court for gun crimes.

Copyright 2009 WMC-TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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