More youth violence has community asking about mayor’s plan

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Another public display of teen violence in Memphis has the community asking about the status of Mayor A C Wharton's youth plan.

The mayor announced his youth violence plan, full of many expanded and new programs, in November.

However, there hasn't been many mentions of funding or progress since then.

Teenagers brawled at a skating rink this week, and people told WREG they want to hear what the mayor is going to do about it.

"Of course, I would love to hear from him [Wharton]. I'm sure everyone would love to hear from him. I mean this is our foundation. These little guys are our foundation," concerned resident Jack Jones said.

After two days reaching out to the city, a spokesperson for the mayor finally responded via email late Wednesday afternoon.

City spokesperson Dewanna Smith explained a bit more about funding. She said a private donor, who doesn't want to be named, donated $800,000 to the 901 BLOC Squad.

The 901 BLOC Squad is a team of trained street intervention workers that reach out to at-risk young men and respond to emergencies.

WREG asked the city about the status of two parenting centers Wharton spoke about in November.

Smith said there will be an announcement about the parenting centers sometime this month. She also said the city has acquired some private funding for the initial start of the program, but the mayor will need to get the rest of the money from City Council.

The City Council has not had many presentations about the plan at this point.

The city's e-mail response said it asked the council for funding to expand its Youth Ambassadors Program, but no additional funds were approved.

Chief Administrative Officer George Little said, "I know that we can't move quickly enough, but we're going to provide more alternatives, especially as we get into the warmer months, when frankly, we have more issues when kids are out and about."

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