(Memphis) One day after a teen was shot outside an anti-violence meeting, participants of the program had another meeting across town.
This time, everything went smoothly. In fact, members of different gangs stepped out of the meeting to talk to News Channel 3 about why they felt Tuesday’s shooting had nothing to do with gang rivalry.
“Gangs really don’t matter now. It’s all about money,” said Marcellos Anderson.
He said he would work with members of other gangs, if the end goal was to get more money.
“He could be my rival. I could be beefing with his homeboy yesterday. We just shoot each other. Hey man, quick $500. Oh ok.”
Anderson doesn’t believe the 17-year-old grazed on the neck by a bullet was a target by another gang.
DeMarcus Roberson, from a different gang, said the incident was still rather bizarre.
“That was crazy. Because someone was shot at an anti-gang meeting,” Roberson said.
But like Anderson, he knows they can all sit together to talk about solving problems instead of drawing weapons.
Even for those who may have problems with him, “When they come around, I don’t bomb their face off or nothing. I’m still cool. I respect everybody as a man.”
That respect, especially for the leaders of 901 BLOC, sets the tone for the meetings. It helps that some of the people hosting the events have experienced crimes on the street themselves.
But the leaders have turned their lives around, and are hoping the same message will encourage the younger participants to become mentors too.
“I know a lot of young people I want, to grow up and be something in life. Instead of losing their life in the streets, or dead or in jail,” Roberson said.