Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Beltline Drug House

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Shutting down suspected crack dealers in one Memphis neighborhood has become more difficult. Police said the drug slingers operate 24-7 directly next door to a church and across Boston Street from a child enrichment center.

Bishop Jerry Jackson's Mount Pleasant Baptist church sits next to 422 Boston. a house police said is a crack house.

"The neighborhood has been kind of run down and ran over with gang activity and drug activity," Bishop Jerry Jackson said.

Rev. Bill Marler's Beltline Child Enrichment Center operates across Boston Street from the church and a stone's throw from the problem property.

"So you've got sort of a war going on here between the two and one will successfully assimilate the other and it just depends on who can get here with the most resources first," Marler said.
For the moment, it's a stalemate. Action News 5 visited in July with the intention of showing good hearted church people on a mission trip from Ohio fixing up the neighborhood.

Young women painted Thurman Wright's house and swept the driveway as the 75 year old watched his neighbors across Boston Street.

But in July, the story took on a new dimension when the drug dealers ordered an Action News 5 photographer not to take their pictures or photograph 416 and 422 Boston. Both across the street from the enrichment center.

We eventually did take video of the suspected drug dealers addresses from the air and the ground. Police said they are Gangster Disciples.

Perhaps Action News 5's presence in July so shook the drug operation, police sources said it appears the Boston Street drug dealers are selling only to their regulars. All of this is playing out in a very intimate setting, extremely close quarters just a block east of the Liberty Bowl.

Police said it is a microcosm of what's happening in dozens of other Memphis neighborhoods:

"I believe that it's going to turn around. I got the faith and I'm praying to God that if we turn it around, that the neighborhood turns around and everybody catches the vision and run with item," Jackson said.
But for now it is a stalemate in the Beltline as many try mightily to Take back Our Neighborhoods.

Click here to e-mail Joe Birch.