South Memphis crime spree has officials working toward a turnaround

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Memphis Police responded to at least six aggravated assault near Mississippi Boulevard and the Stax Records Museum in July and August, records showed.

“It’s a lot, a lot of it," one of the victims said.

The woman lives just a half a mile from the center of Soulsville, but she was afraid to give her name because of the risk of retaliation. She called the police just last week when an argument turned violent in the parking lot next to her building.

She said a man threatened her, her daughter and her granddaughter with a gun.

“When we tried to go forward, he pulled the gun and held us at bay and said 'Don’t move.' That’s what we did. We didn’t move," she said.

Chet Jackson has heard these stories. He’s one of the directors of the Works, a community development corporation based in South Memphis.

“We have to be realistic about how we approach neighborhood safety. It can’t be done overnight. It takes an amount of time so it’s done incrementally," Jackson said.

He said he’s not surprised the victim we spoke with didn’t want to show her face; in fact, most victims don’t even want to call police.

“The challenge in reporting is if I call and say something they’re gonna have my address," he said.

He said they were working on better systems, working with neighbors on how to protect themselves and encouraging development around local landmarks like Stax.

“Those are the best places up in here. Anything that helps, I don’t know if it’s the youth but somebody's got to do it quick, fast," the victim said.

Jackson estimated crime in the area will start to turn around in five to 10 years.

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