MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A Memphis pastor made an impassioned plea Friday to end the gun violence plaguing the city.
Pastor Bill Adkins, a longtime activist in Memphis and senior pastor of Greater Imani Church, held a news conference to address the shootings, some of which have involved child victims.
Adkins shared a story about the 8-year-old grandniece of one of his church members who was shot and killed by a stray bullet last year.
He cited this year’s crime statistics in Memphis -- 76 homicides, 63 murders and six involving children. He referenced three children who were injured in shootings just yesterday.
“To solve our problem, we’ve got to first be deeply concerned about it,” said Adkins. “We should make our feelings known. And we need to exhibit our anger when it comes to the crimes that take so many innocent lives. We become so easily angered about police brutality, which we should, but we should also be angered by the senseless murders, the homicides, the stray bullets that fly within our communities.”
“Why aren’t we angry? Why aren’t we upset? Why aren’t we as angry about shootings of little children in Memphis as we were about the shooting of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky? Why aren’t we as mad? Why aren’t we as angry as we are about the death of George Floyd and the trial of his murderer going on right now?”
Adkins is asking people to speak up and speak out about crime. He wants to bring back neighborhood watches and create avenues where the faith community can work with police to stop the shooting. He referenced more community policing, police substations, forums and town hall meetings.
Adkins says he was born and raised in Memphis, growing up surrounded by poverty, and should never be an excuse to commit crime.
“We have socio-economic problems, we’re aware of that,” he said. “But must stop making excuses for rampant crime that’s taking the lives of citizens every day. We’ve got to stop worrying about the problems that existed forever before, but we need solutions now to seek avenues by which we can stop this murder rate in our communities.”
He continued: “Memphis is a city under siege. We are a city in war. This is a war zone. This is not a community. We are one of the top murder capitals of the United States of America. And while we’re looking for a new police director, we still need to be on guard that this city is in trouble. And we need to admit it’s in trouble and we need to do something about it quickly. And people in our communities, we must speak out. We must care. We must show our concern, our vitriol, our anger -- a holy, righteous anger -- to express to others so that everyone knows we are not at ease or at peace with what is happening in our streets.”