(Memphis) Teens at the Ed Rice Community Center say they’re lucky they have a safe place to play.
“It’s pretty safe I come up here to work out sometimes,” Eddie Bailey said.
But Wednesday just down the street a 13-year-old was beaten. Police say the young girl was attacked with a stick by her 19-year-old boyfriend Zandravious Butler.
Regulars at the park didn’t recognize him, and were sickened to hear what happened.
“That’s crazy people are just crazy,” Bailey said.
Crime near these once safe havens for kids is becoming common. There have been about a half dozen shootings in the last 7 months.
In June, a teen was shot outside the Douglas Community Center pool. In September, a teen was murdered at the Westwood Community Center. In January, a teen was shot outside the North Frayser Community Center.
Then at the Westwood Community Center just two weeks ago, two teens were shot.
“They’ve gotten very bad. You can’t even let the little children go up and play,” Eva Richmond said.
Richmond lives near the Westwood Community Center. She used to let her kids play there, but not anymore.
“I take them to the park just not up there,” she said.
She said the city needs to make serious changes.
“I think they need more security and more light,” she said. “When we had the police department up there we didn’t have all that violence.”
We tried to ask the Memphis Parks Department if they had any plans to add lights or security to the community centers, but they didn’t answer those questions. Instead the department issued a statement.
“The fact that shootings have occurred near our community centers underscores the local challenge we have with this epidemic and the need for us all to work together to address it,” city spokesperson Toni Holmon-Turner said in an email.
Neighbors hope the problems get addressed soon before other teens get hurt.