Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Binghampton Businesses - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Ursula Madden

Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Binghampton Businesses

Six people were killed, four adults and two children, in the tragedy on Lester Street. Three children survived.

The brutal crime affected the entire city, especially the Binghampton community.

Now the Memphis City Council wants answers and is demanding change.

Binghamton makes up a portion of District 5, an area represented by Councilman Jim Strickland.

When Jim Strickland looks around this predominantly African American neighborhood, he sees hope.
"I see potential. I see good neighbors trying to make their neighborhood better," Strickland said.

But there is also an undeniable air of persistent poverty.

Overgrown and empty lots. Boarded up homes. And businesses that have been shut down for years. Conditions Strickland calls unacceptable.
"If it was next to my house or next to your house, we would not accept that.  So we shouldn't accept it in any neighborhood," Strickland said.

Strickland has been on the city council for six months.

The Lester Street murders happened in March, but the visit for the interview was the first time he has seen 722 Lester in person.

Strickland said he stays in touch with the pastor of First Baptist Broad, Keith Norman and he meets with the Binghampton Development Corporation. But  he said he has not been invited to speak to community groups like he has in other parts of District 5.

A perceived lack of help from local politicians is a source of frustration for life-long Binghampton resident Cedric Weaver.
"Your politicians come into the community during voting time.  The promise you they're going to do this, they're going to do that.  You don't see them after you get them into office," resident Cedric Weaver said.

Strickland said the burden of meeting Binghampton resident's lies with him.

He also said he may not have made the personal connection he wants with the community, but he does have ideas about revitalization for this district and it all begins with addressing crime.
"Because people aren't going to want to put a business in an area where they don't feel safe. Who would blame them? People don't want to live where they don't feel safe.  Some people don't have a choice though. People don't have a choice. And for those people and people we want to move into this area, we need to make it safe," Strickland said.

That means adding 500-600 officers to the force. He said relaxing the city's residency requirement is a must.  Stepping up code enforcement through the city's community enhancement program is also key. And he said state lawmakers need to eliminate parole for certain crimes, so incidents like the Lester Street murders don't happen.

Strickland said if you take care of crime and blight, revitalization will follow.
"We need a grocery store in this neighborhood, we need a pharmacy.  They need those things in this neighborhood. It not only creates jobs, but it brings life and that's quality to a neighborhood," Strickland said.

Click here to e-mail Ursula Madden.

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