City leaders react to Lester Street massacre - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Kontji Anthony

City leaders react to Lester Street massacre

Updated:

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - On the heels of a press conference Tuesday announcing the 40th anniversary commemoration of Martin Luther King, Junior's assassination, Mayor Willie Herenton addressed another, more recent, tragedy.

"Forty years later, the economic divide in this country, all of the social and human problems we're having just manifest themselves in horrible ways," he said.

Herenton said the Lester Street Massacre was an omen for the city to dig deep and unearth the root of its ills.

"It deals with family, it deals with neighborhoods, it deals with individual accountability and responsibility for the individual's own behavior," he said.

Herenton hoped the acts of one individual or one group would not cast a shadow over the entire city.

"It's not the city, it's the individuals that commit the crimes," he said. "They are the ones that are responsible for all these human tragedies."

Herenton said there are no simple solutions.

"I don't think more police officers, more jails, more people marching the streets praying - I don't think all of those are the answers.  I don't know the solutions, but obviously I am deeply hurt by what happened to this family and how it effects the human spirit," he said.

Meanwhile, at Memphis City Hall, members of the Memphis City Council held a moment of silence for the victims of the massacre and their families at the beginning of Tuesday's regularly scheduled meeting.

Council members were visibly shaken by the tragedy, evoking raw emotion.

"It's two miles from my house," council member Reid Hedgepeth said. "This could have been in my neighborhood.  It could have been in any neighborhood.  It's just disturbing."

Others, like Barbara Swearengen Ware, called for prayer.

"Not only for those families, but for our city and for the people that are going through such devastating experiences that they would resort to something so tragic," she said.

Wanda Halbert called the news of the massacre "devastating," while Joe Brown extended thoughts to the families of the victims.

"On behalf of the city and the Memphis City Council, I would like to say we extend our condolences," Brown said. "We're concerned about the crime problem in this city."
 
Council members hoped justice would be served swiftly for the six men, women, and children murdered, and on behalf of the three surviving children in the hospital, who may never forget what they saw.


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