901 BLOC Squad Gets Criticism From Gang Expert

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(Memphis) Tonight a man who spent the past decade fighting Memphis’ gang problem is firing questions at a plan the city just launched.

This week,  the 901 BLOC Squad ,short for Better Lives, Opportunities & Communities, hit the streets of Memphis trying to find ways to get their message out.

Mayor A C Wharton proudly introduced the five former gang members last year, saying the best way to fight gang problems is using people who know gangsters the best, “I can tell you one thing, if we keep trying to do it the way we've been doing it, it's not going to get any better.”

Joe Hunter known as "Uncle Joe" says the city’s plan won’t work.

He spent the past 13 years as part of GANGS Inc., a program battling gangs in Frayser where last night’s shooting happened.

He says getting a group like 901 BLOC involved brings too many cooks to the kitchen and no recipe to follow, “We got cooks in the kitchen that can't cook and don't know the difference between salt and pepper and if you put too much salt in the water, you taint it. If you don't put enough, it ain't good.”

901 BLOC leader Delvin Lane said, “We have to get together. The media, the community centers, the churches, we have to do it as a collective whole.”

Even though the city said 901 BLOC is supposed to battle the city’s gang problem, Lane says the  city hall sponsored program specifically targets youth gun violence not just gangs.

Lane said, “All we are trying to do is stop the kids from getting hurt. All the adults need to get together on one page and stop feuding over whatever the feud might be for.”

Lane denies last night’s shooting started because 901 BLOC bought former gangsters into rival territory.

“Uncle Joe” believes that’s exactly what happened. He questions the groups knowledge of anti-gang prevention.

Hunter says, “I don't know what curriculum they're using or what mindset they're using to even do what they're doing.”

City hall stresses this is not some big meeting between rival gangs trying to come to a truce.

This is set up meeting with the city’s marketing team so when they roll out the BLOC squad to the public, they’ll know how to target their message to reach young people.


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