Musical Festival Beefs Up Security in Wake of Shootings
(Clarksdale, MS) Headlines of gang violence are becoming all to common in this small Mississippi town.
The latest in the rash of shootings happened on School Street where one home was riddled with bullets.
“I go to sleep to gunshots almost every night,” Mary Grace Jenkins said.
Jenkins and her mom Ruby live a block away.
They’re no stranger to gunfire.
“A little boy got shot in my yard. That was the first time I called 911,” Ruby Jenkins said.
“I was out mowing the lawn in broad daylight and I went to take a break to get some water And there were guys right behind that fence over there and I saw the gun. I saw the two guys running and they tried to shoot me they missed me and hit the curb,” Mary Grace said.
Jesse Wright has covered what’s being called a “gang war” for the Clarksdale Press Register.
He says while the shootings are more frequent, they don’t appear to be random.
“What has a lot of people worried is the shots are fired at particular residences,” he said. “It would appear particular houses are the targets of these shots.”
While those houses are not near the city center, where this weekend’s Sunflower Music Festival will be, the crime wave is a concern for organizers.
“From a tourism stand point that’s never good,” Tappi Allen with the Coahoma Chamber of Commerce said.
So to ease fears the festival is beefing up security with more than 150 officers from police, two sheriffs departments, homeland security and a private security firm.
A lot of officers to watch over a lot people.
This town of 18-thousand will double in size this weekend.
“With it being the 25th anniversary we look forward to having a lot more people here. and having Robert Plant doesn’t hurt the situation at all,” Allen said.
In fact, Allen said, all but 6 hotel rooms in Clarksdale are booked for the weekend.
The festival starts Friday.