MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It’s been a week since a shooting rampage left six people shot, three of them dead across Memphis, but the fear continues — and it may be impacting the local economy.
Suspect Ezekiel Kelly is in custody and faced a judge earlier this week. But last Wednesday, businesses went into lockdown, some closing and others sheltering in place. That caused them to lose a day of business and is having short-term and long-term impacts.
“There was a fear of what’s happening especially when you had a shooter who’s randomly going around,” said Luther Mercer, CEO of Community LIFT.
Mercer’s work supports Memphis businesses through loans and grants, but last Wednesday, he lent emotional support.
“I think we have to reverse that conversation. Poverty economics has always played a role in crime,” he said.
Mercer said if people want to feel safe, they should support investing in community services beyond law enforcement and criminal justice.
“We have to talk about jobs, we have to talk about mental illness, we have to talk about education” and issues including housing and rent, he said.
For Ashley Hinton, that investment looks like safe transportation. The mother of four recently discovered her young co-worker was walking a mile in the dark to get home.
That didn’t seem safe, after the shooting rampage and the Eliza Fletcher kidnapping that happened a few days before.
“Being a mom, I thought if that were my daughter, I’d want someone to help them,” Hinton said.
She posted to social media about it to raise money to buy her co-worker a bike and safety gear.
“The response was amazing and it was immediate,” Hinton said. She raised enough to buy more than one bike, and is now working other plans to help.
It’s a sign the community is ready to invest. The question becomes, what will that look like on a larger scale?