Group holds ‘Stop the Violence’ rally in West Memphis

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. -- Fed up with the violence, one group held a community bash in West Memphis Saturday to spread the message that enough is enough.

The organizer spent much of his life locked up, and now, he hopes to encourage others to put the guns down and turn their lives around.

"I’ve been in these streets – been to prison like 14 times. I was released from prison like two years ago, and my goal is to come out and show people that a life of crime is not worth it," said Jerry Johnson.

That’s why he founded 'Streets Sense,' a group aimed at keeping kids out of gangs and violence out of the city.

"We’ve got to come to a conclusion that enough is enough and we want to change," Johnson said.

Tsequilla Crayton is also part of the organization.

Her fiance, Forrest City police officer Oliver Johnson, was killed in April when a stray bullet tore through his apartment while he played video games with his daughter.

"A lot of the gang members are recruiting young children and that’s what’s causing a lot of the violence in the community. So, if we can reach the gang members and a lot of the children, we probably can help stop it," she said.

She says they always dreamed of doing community outreach work together, and she hopes he'd be proud of what she's doing in his honor.

"Now that he died, I feel like I gotta do it now. I can’t wait no more," she said. "I’m living through him, and I think he’d be very happy with what I’m doing."

Even in the scorching heat, people came out to show their support, including former gang members, who talked to kids about making better choices, and city leaders.

"I’ve been to so many young men’s funerals here in this community and I know our city needs a change," said West Memphis City Councilman Marco McClendon. "A child can’t be what he don’t see, and I hope that they see by us being positive out here that there’s another way to go."

Johnson also owns 2nd Chance, an auto repair shop where he literally gives felons a second chance by training them and giving them jobs so they can get back on their feet.