Memphis Neighborhoods Make Nation’s Most Dangerous List
Thanks to a break from the notorious April showers, this afternoon, for the first time since late last fall my daughters spent some time playing in our backyard. As weather in the mid-south would have it, today was pretty mild. My kids playing in the yard is something that I’ve always wanted for them. It was definitely one of the deal breakers when my wife and I decided to house hunting a few years ago. Not that they’ve never had the opportunity to play outside before now. It’s just that aside from the scorching heat of the south, being able to play outside was not always safe.
Don’t get me wrong, our old neighborhood wasn’t the worst — trust me, I’ve seen worse. But, with the crippling effects of the nation’s economic fallout taking hold in pockets of the city of Memphis, let’s just say that things in our old neighborhood went from sugar to shit pretty quickly. Yes, with the rise of empty homes due to record foreclosures, things got pretty bad in the Hickory Hill neighborhood pretty quickly. But to hear some locals tell it, the neighborhood has been on its way down for quite some time before the recession. It didn’t seem that way to me when I moved there as a northern transplant back in ’06. After all, having lived in New York City — Brownsville-East New York, Brooklyn to be exact — there wasn’t much anyone could tell me about dangerous hoods.
As far as I was concerned, relative to my previous residence, I was living in suburbia. Yes, I’ve seen the so-called rough spots here in Memphis, and at the time, my old Hickory Hill neighborhood was nothing like a few of those not-so-sunny neighborhoods I was instructed to stay clear of. Which was something I always found amusing, because, well, I’m from Brooklyn. However, as I mentioned before, the recession hit and things got pretty ugly really quickly. Yes, and seeing a few detectives from the Memphis Police Department with whom I became acquainted thanks to the series The First 48 entering empty buildings was all it took to decide we had to move. Yes, that was the last straw; it was the icing on the cake that was baked by the neighborhood drug dealers and frequent gunshots.
If only the kids in the following neighborhoods weren’t so unlucky:
(Memphis) According to a list developed by Neighborhood Scout, three of the top 25 most dangerous neighborhoods in America are in Memphis, TN and West Memphis, AR.
No. 11 on the list is the area near Gaston Park, bound by South 3rd to the west, the railroad track to the north, South Wellington to the east, and East McLemore to the south.
There, Neighborhood Scout states a person has a 1 in 12 chance of becoming a victim of violent crime.
No. 23 is the area near St. Paul Street and Walnut Avenue. It’s bound by South Lauderdale and Mississippi Boulevard to the west, the railroad track to the south, Walnut to the east and St. Paul to the north.
There, they claim a 1 in 15 chance of becoming a victim of violent crime.
An area in West Memphis bound by I-40 to the north, Ingram Boulevard to the west, East Broadway to the south, and Club Road to the east, is ranked No. 21.
The website explains that they gathered data from the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice. They define “violent crime” as armed robbery, aggravated assault, forcible rape and homicide.
They said they developed a series of algorithms to estimate violent crime risk, but did not explain the algorithms themselves.
In both South Memphis neighborhoods listed, people told News Channel 3 the problems come from unemployment, poverty and blight.
The Emmanuel Episcopal Center sits within neighborhood no. 23.
Whether or not the list is accurate, Father Colenzo Hubbard said, “There’s been a lot of gang activity in this community, and because of that creating violence and criminal activity is a part of that, yes.”
But his program for 400 area children aims to break that cycle.
He said, “Education doesn’t seem to matter. Then that’s a real problem. So people lack hope.”
For the last six years, his participants have had a 100 percent graduation rate.
In 2013, he has already had to hold a funeral service for a victim of violent crime. He said the problem lies in children copying bad behavior of adults around them. (source)
I haven’t been to the old neighborhood in quite some time aside to occasionally visit my barber (yep, for some reason a good black barber is hard to find when you move into a zip code that’s predominantly white). However, I’m glad to know that my old hood didn’t make the list of the nation’s top twenty-five most dangerous neighborhoods like at least two neighborhoods here in Memphis, TN. did recently. And thankfully for me and my family, unlike many we were able to afford the expense of getting out before it got any worse. And thankfully, my kids can now play outside without being in harm’s way other than running the risk of encountering maybe an occasional deer, goat, or coyote running across our back yard. So, watching my kids play outside today, I’m not only reminded of where I came from, but I’m thankful for where I am in live at the present moment.