MEMPHIS, Tenn. — With Memphis seeing a rash of youth violence recently, WREG decided to ask young people what can stop it. Their answer…nothing.
Two men, who gave only nicknames, told WREG they thought of the Kroger mob attack as “fun.”
“The Kroger attack… That’s just what kids do, our generation, I mean,” one of the men said.
“Why do you think kids are kind of drawn to that violence?” WREG reporter Katie Rufener asked them.
“It’s fun,” one responded.
WREG showed Mayor A C Wharton part of the interview. He was disgusted by what he called a flippant attitude towards the violent attack.
“There’s absolutely no excuse,” he said. “I don’t care what he says or anybody, and I think 99 percent of Memphians feel that response is totally unacceptable.”
The young men told WREG they see the police as the biggest problem in Memphis. They even called them a “government gang.”
“To be honest the police make you want to do s***. I’m sorry for cussing, but the police make you want to do things, especially when you’re walking by and they bother you for no reason,” the men said. “Then when they’re not around, you feel like you should be rebellious.”
Wharton said that should not be happening.
“There’s a young man by the name of Toney Armstrong,” he said, speaking of the Memphis police director. “Call him up and say, ‘Look, this officer did this to me. This officer did that, disrespected me.’ There’s a way to deal with that.”
“Nobody cares about Jail,” the men said, laughing. “You go in, and you get out. If you don’t get out, youre in with people you know.”
Wharton said there are options out there.
“We have a summer job program. All those things need to be expended. If you’ve been in trouble before, we have reentry programs that will help you clean up your record,” he said.
But the men countered, “Why would I break my back for $300 every two weeks when I can make $300 a night off one serve? Speaking for the robbers, you can make that in a minute or two.”
As for community programs and after school actives planned by the city, the men said, “It’s boring. That’s how people look at it. It’s boring. The image with the drugs and the violence and guns and fighting and all that… It looks fun. That’s what people see. They see fun.”
The men told WREG to change that mindset, they need to see more people turning away from gang life. While they say some older generation gang members are doing that, many still push them to live the street life.