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Memphis mayor negotiating proposed cease-fire with rival city gangs

Mayor Paul Young said the gangsters agreed in principle to his proposal, but had some assurances of their own that they want respected.
Memphis mayor negotiating proposed cease-fire with rival city gangs
Posted at 12:17 PM, Feb 29, 2024

A Tennessee mayor is taking an unusual boots-on-the-ground approach to try to curb violent crime and restore a sense of peace in his city. 

Memphis Mayor Paul Young has reportedly met with the leaders of rival gangs in an attempt to negotiate a week-long ceasefire that would temporarily halt the violence they've instigated. Young said he met with the gangsters earlier this month and they agreed in principle to his proposition as long as certain requests were met, according to WMC-TV in Memphis.

"My ask for them in that conversation was 'can we get a seven-day cease-fire? Just seven days where there's no shooting, no killing?" Young said at a city panel discussion this week, the outlet reported. "And they said, 'Yeah, we would be willing to do that,' and they gave me a couple of caveats."

Mayor Young added that the gang leaders wanted assurances that all sides would respect the terms of the cease-fire. They also requested more job opportunities for young people and community investment in programs that teach them the skills needed for those jobs.

SEE MORE: Why is gang activity increasing?

According to The Collective Blueprint, a nonprofit focused on increasing socioeconomic mobility for young adults, the Memphis area has more than 45,000 people ages 16-24 who are currently not in school and out of work, with nearly half of that population living in poverty. In a study published with the National Institutes of Health, researchers found that low socioeconomic status in childhood can also be directly linked to subsequent criminal behavior. 

It's an issue that can't be solved overnight, but Mayor Young says it's steps like this — coming to the table and opening up — that can lead to positive change. 

"[The gang leaders] said, 'I never would imagine the mayor would be talking to us directly," he said, according to WMC-TV. "If you come to our hood, if you come over here and ask them to put the guns down, they will do it because they’ve never seen anybody like you in their community talking directly to them."

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