West Memphis taking serious approach to combating violence
McClendon: ‘Hurt, anger, and tears have covered the hearts and minds of our young people’
West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon condemned violence after two weekend shooting scenes left three dead in the city and called the infamous Saturday morning “unforgettable.”
“The self-hatred in the black community has raised its ugly head once again,” said McClendon.
The mayor noted new police initiatives and improved violent crime results during the first quarter of the year compared to last year, while recognizing the problem persists in the community.
McClendon named the three fatally shot victims in his narrative of the lethal gunplay and asked for brotherly love to supplant the atmosphere of hate.
“Instead of showing love and being our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers,” said McClendon. “Bullets rang out hitting three individuals and killing two, Juwaun McClendon (no relation to the mayor) and Nathaniel Henderson with many others injured or traumatized.” The mayor offered free mental health for those impacted from a nightmare of violence.
“Hurt, anger, and tears have covered the hearts and minds of our young people making decisions that life has no value,” said McClendon.
McClendon moved to the next shooting scene at 605 S. Oxford that police now believe linked.
“Later, hate went to Oxford street, shooting several times in a window killing Cornethea Robinson who had absolutely nothing to do with the senseless violence,” said the Mayor.
The long time city councilman, now in his first 100 days in the mayor’s chair, said he was weary of violent crime and used his new position as a bully pulpit.
“I’m so tired of the soil of this city being fertilized with the blood of our young men and women, watered by their mothers’ tears and their babies waiting on them to come home,” said McClendon.
“I say enough is enough. I just can’t sit in my office and act as if those doesn’t bother me. I give a damn what happens in our community. As mayor it hurts me to see our young men dying like dogs and a week later we go back to business as usual. I am tired of seeing young men on the front of T-shirts like that is the place for them to be.”
The mayor offered to facilitate a truce between the feuding gangs. He pled for the suspected shooters to turn themselves in.
“I pray you choose the right side and turn your self in,” said McClendon.
The shooters face federal counts for every round fired according to the mayor. The West Memphis Police have already been using federal ATF agents to prosecute felony drug and gun crimes.
The mayor touted new interagency law enforcement alliances to combat crime regionally with Marion, Jonesboro, and Crittenden County. New School Resource Officers were put to work in every city school after spring break and a new violent crime suppression unit combined federal and city police investigators this year.
The fatal shootings involved young adults but the mayor used the press conference as an occasion to call for enforcement of the city curfew for minors.
“If you are 17 or under and don’t have a job or are not with an adult, you have no business being out after 11 p.m.,” said McClendon.