MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tuesday night, hundreds of neighborhoods will take a stand, fighting crime and hoping to become better places to live. It’s National Night Out, and all across the Mid-South, people are gathering.
It’s an event that many look forward to every year, and one South Memphis neighborhood may be the epitome of how neighborhoods can change.
Riverview, a community off I-55 near downtown Memphis, really became a poster community for crime-fighting. There were stories and news conferences about how city leaders planned to get rid of gangs in the area, so on this National Night Out, we went back to Riverivew to see if the promises were paying off.
Shirley Bell is doing something she never imagined a year ago: walking her Riverview neighborhood without fear. Last August, that wouldn’t have been possible.
“They be gambling and shooting and mostly just shooting,” she said. “A whole lot of shooting round here and Lord knows we done lost a lot of lives around here too.”
So what changed?
News Channel 3 has been following the transformation of Riverview from last year’s news conference declaring it a Gang Free Safe Zone to this past February, when we rode along with the gang unit as they made sure gang members were no longer hanging on the streets.
“But these young gang-bangers, you don’t see them, they are not out here no more. So it’s gotten a lot better,” Bell said.
Not to say all the crime is gone. Just this morning, Albert Guy got a call from his tenant that someone broke into the house she is renting from him.
“They had broke in and stole two flat screen TVs and an X Box,” he said.
He says the dilapidated vacant houses and overgrown weeds are still a haven for crime.
“I think we both can do more in fixing up our own property and if the city can take care a little bit more of this blight and vacant lots, vacant property,” Guy said.
But on this National Night Out, Riverview is joining Mallory Heights neighbors in making a commitment to keep things safe.
The park will be full of people, and Mary Morrow, who’s putting the event together, says it’s about connecting.
“We are just blessed to bring all the neighbors, seniors,parents , youth and all….to let them know we care for them,” she said.
Riverview was the first neighborhood declared a gang free zone, but others are also being included.