AG Sessions Visits Memphis to Deliver a Strong Message

 

Last Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions came to Memphis to talk crime, drugs, and violence, all of which are as abundant here as the barbecue. Last year, Memphis experienced a 43 percent spike in homicides, prompting Sessions to remind one and all that, “these aren’t just numbers:”

These are people, our citizens whose safety and lives are at stake everyday. They are people like the residents in Sycamore Lake Apartments here in northeast Memphis. Last week, two men were shot there and killed during a drug deal, according to the local detectives who worked the case. Tragically, this is not an uncommon thing there; since 2014, seven people, including a soon-to-be-mother and her unborn baby were murdered in just that apartment complex.

The Attorney General went on to pledge that “every lawful tool” would be employed to “take the most violent offenders off our streets.” Highlighting a link between illegal drugs and violent crime, Sessions added, “If you are a gang member, know this. You think you are targeting us. Well, we are targeting you. We will devastate your networks. We will starve you revenue sources, deplete your ranks, and seize your profits.”

One would think that a commitment to reverse the tide of innocent blood that spills daily on Memphis’s streets would be greeted with gratitude, but alas, one would not be terribly familiar with Memphis. The Commercial Appeal cited a local law professor who reasoned that, “Charging the harshest way possible is not required by law, and is opposite from the direction our mass-incarceration-cray society needs to go.” I read the professor’s comments in the newspaper at 4 PM Friday afternoon and then began a timeline of local news alerts:

Friday, May 26, 2017: 

4:02 PM: WREG’s news alert flashed across my phone with: “Police still on the hunt for two suspects involved in today’s downtown Memphis hotel shooting…”

4:04 PM: Scrolled down through the alerts and saw the previous hour’s alert that, “Police are on the scene of a shooting at Misty Moor Ln…”  Which itself followed the alert that, “As a precaution St. Jude is limiting who is allowed to enter their campus.”  And further down still, “Police – 19-year-old charged in attempted murder of three women;” after which I see, “Arrest made in attempted murder of Northaven man.”

4:05 PM:  Yes, yes, I now understand the law professor’s point — if we only had fewer criminal offenders in jail and more roaming the street, we’d be safer.  Thus does counter-intuition transcend to lunacy.

5:51 PM:  Another alert: “Graduation day gets cut short after shooting.”

5:59 PM: Yet another:  “Police are at the scene of a shooting at St. Charles. The victim has been shot multiple times.”

7:37 PM: An update: “The Frayser woman has died from the multiple gunshot wounds.”

…All in the space of only three and a half hours.

9:59 PM: Here’s a doozy of an alert: “Why the Saudi Arabian embassy is investigating a shooting in downtown Memphis the details at 10 pm.”  (After which we learn on the 10 o’clock news the that the shooting victim from the downtown skirmish was likely a Saudi special forces member at the Sheraton. But even special forces training can’t prepare one for an encounter with Memphis’s finest hospitality specialists.)  

No worries, though. We just need to convince the Attorney General to incarcerate fewer criminals because, as the chairman of the local NAACP chapter said, “This type of sentencing destroys lives and families.” What about the lives and families of the innocent victims of these imbecilic thugs? No word from The Commercial Appeal.  

Instead, we get platitudinous nonsense about the President’s immigration polices and bromides about “police harassment of minorities,” and a great deal of wondering why AG Sessions focused on Memphis rather than, say, Nashville or Knoxville. Local Columnist Tonya Weathersbee suspects that Sessions was playing to racial bias. Conspicuously missing is the hard data that show there have been 312 homicide victims in Memphis from January 2016 to present, 256 of whom were African American, with exactly four people being killed in an altercation with the police. The tragic reality is that the last sight the overwhelming majority of these people saw was the black face of their killer. As the Manhattan Institute’s Heather MacDonald explained:

To be blunt, the violent-crime increase has hit almost exclusively in black neighborhoods. Nine hundred additional black males were murdered in 2015 compared with 2014, bringing total black homicide deaths that year to more than 7,000. It is a marker of the perversity of elite rhetoric about race that both Trump and Sessions have been fiercely attacked as racist for pledging to save black lives.

The number of violent crime victims per 100,000 people stands at a national average of 373. In Tennessee, that number is 621 victims per 100,000 people. In Nashville, the number stands at 702, while in Knoxville the number is 927. Here in Memphis, there are a staggering 1,740 violent crime victims per 100,000 people.

Meanwhile, could someone please offer a little proof, other than walking in circles while carrying their precious little signs, that any lives in Memphis matter? Because I’m not seeing it in the parade of violence which punctuates the evening news. I’m not seeing it when a vigil to mourn innocent victims becomes yet another shooting gallery, as happened just a few days ago. And I’m certainly not seeing it in local drivers who run each other with all the dumb abandon of a cattle stampede.

“We’re not going back to 50 years of Jim Crow,” intoned the NAACP chairman, who is certainly correct, though he’s got his time travel all mixed up. No, we are not going back to Jim Crow-era prohibitions and discrimination. In Memphis, we’re going back further still, back to a time of utter savagery that makes the O.K. Corral look like a civilized debate under Robert’s Rules of Order.

But the specter of Jim Crow, which invocation precisely exactly no one is advocating, allows the NAACP chairman to carefully tip-toe around the metastasizing cancer of lawlessness that is transforming a formerly beautiful city into a killing field — and all the theatrics of the racialists and all the obfuscations of law professors aren’t going to help one little bit.

There are 21 comments.

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  1. Son of Barsham Member
    Son of Barsham
    @LesserSonofBarsham

    I was born in Union City and grew up in and around West TN. In my lifetime Memphis has become its own little Detroit or South Chicago. As a Tennessean it breaks my heart that this happens in a city in my home State. I hope that the common sense that I was surrounded by growing up breaks through this kind of leftist lunacy.

    • #1
  2. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    Seems like the types of inner cities our president was calling on our country to not only help fix, but first to just acknowledge the status and causes.

    Let’s see the media lie about the problem.  You have spoken truth Dave.

    • #2
  3. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Sorry the war on drugs has been going on for nearly half a century and there are more overdose deaths, more addiction, more crime, more incarceration, more fines and confiscations. more failed states and gangs.  Do you think maybe we could reach the conclusion that like all, repeat all, federal programs, it doesn’t work, is corrupt and corrupting, not to mention horribly expensive.  It’s like Keynesian economics, it doesnt work because it needs more money? or blood letting medicine, we didn’t bleed him soon enough, or all foreign AID this place hasn’t developed because we didn’t provide enough Aid.  The war on drugs hasn’t worked because we haven’t taken it seriously enough.  Seriously?

    • #3
  4. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    Why can’t Republicans (or somebody) rent billboard space and just put up some quotes, e.g.

    “To be blunt, the violent-crime increase has hit almost exclusively in black neighborhoods. Nine hundred additional black males were murdered in 2015 compared with 2014, bringing total black homicide deaths that year to more than 7,000. It is a marker of the perversity of elite rhetoric about race that both Trump and Sessions have been fiercely attacked as racist for pledging to save black lives.”

    Or something like this: “In the third trimester, an unborn baby is killed with an injection that causes heart failure, or else is cut to pieces without anesthesia and removed from her mother’s body. Yes, only one or two per cent of abortions are done in the third trimester. However, that makes 10-20,000 babies killed  in the United States every year.”

    From personal experience, I can attest that once you “crack the egg”—give someone a piece of information that refutes just one assertion by the left…the whole edifice can come crumbling down. But it needs to get out there in ways that can’t be ignored. A billboard is a great medium, because you don’t have to log on. If you are driving by, and literate, you can’t avoid seeing it and reading it.

    • #4
  5. Dave Carter Podcaster
    Dave Carter
    @DaveCarter

    I Walton (View Comment):
    Sorry the war on drugs has been going on for nearly half a century and there are more overdose deaths, more addiction, more crime, more incarceration, more fines and confiscations. more failed states and gangs. Do you think maybe we could reach the conclusion that like all, repeat all, federal programs, it doesn’t work, is corrupt and corrupting, not to mention horribly expensive. It’s like Keynesian economics, it doesnt work because it needs more money? or blood letting medicine, we didn’t bleed him soon enough, or all foreign AID this place hasn’t developed because we didn’t provide enough Aid. The war on drugs hasn’t worked because we haven’t taken it seriously enough. Seriously?

    Actually, I’m very sympathetic to this point of view which, to me at least, validates some of the lessons from Prohibition.  The larger point I was driving at is that while labeling Sessions’, and by extension President Trump’s, efforts to restore order to the deadly chaos of major cities as racist both in intent and effect, the prevailing bias here in Memphis grows worse still.

    • #5
  6. Michael Minnott Member
    Michael Minnott
    @MichaelMinnott

    I Walton (View Comment):
    Sorry the war on drugs has been going on for nearly half a century and there are more overdose deaths, more addiction, more crime, more incarceration, more fines and confiscations. more failed states and gangs. Do you think maybe we could reach the conclusion that like all, repeat all, federal programs, it doesn’t work, is corrupt and corrupting, not to mention horribly expensive. It’s like Keynesian economics, it doesnt work because it needs more money? or blood letting medicine, we didn’t bleed him soon enough, or all foreign AID this place hasn’t developed because we didn’t provide enough Aid. The war on drugs hasn’t worked because we haven’t taken it seriously enough. Seriously?

    I think you make a valid point.  A lot of the crime is funded by the black market for drugs.  Ending the drug war and decriminalizing drugs would deprive criminal gangs of their funding.  This would help, but we would still need to address the personal and social destruction caused by drug addiction.

    • #6
  7. Dave Sussman Contributor
    Dave Sussman
    @DaveSussman

    Assuming the “local law Professor” was quoted using the term “cray” in a serious context so #WhitePrivilege prohibits me from accepting this source as legitimate.

    An important issue and great post Dave.

    • #7
  8. Dave Carter Podcaster
    Dave Carter
    @DaveCarter

    Dave Sussman (View Comment):
    Assuming the “local law Professor” was quoted using the term “cray” in a serious context so #WhitePrivilege prohibits me from accepting this source as legitimate.

    An important issue and great post Dave.

    Better still to assume that I misspelled the word while transcribing from the newspaper. Flexoril does that sometimes. Sorry ’bout that, but thank you for the kind words!

    • #8
  9. Brian Clendinen Member
    Brian Clendinen
    @BrianClendinen

    Michael Minnott (View Comment):

    I Walton (View Comment):
    Sorry the war on drugs has been going on for nearly half a century and there are more overdose deaths, more addiction, more crime, more incarceration, more fines and confiscations. more failed states and gangs. Do you think maybe we could reach the conclusion that like all, repeat all, federal programs, it doesn’t work, is corrupt and corrupting, not to mention horribly expensive. It’s like Keynesian economics, it doesnt work because it needs more money? or blood letting medicine, we didn’t bleed him soon enough, or all foreign AID this place hasn’t developed because we didn’t provide enough Aid. The war on drugs hasn’t worked because we haven’t taken it seriously enough. Seriously?

    I think you make a valid point. A lot of the crime is funded by the black market for drugs. Ending the drug war and decriminalizing drugs would deprive criminal gangs of their funding. This would help, but we would still need to address the personal and social destruction caused by drug addiction.

    55,000 people died from opiate over dosing in 2015. That is more than all homicides and car deaths combined. So even if 20% or 30% of all  crimes are driven by the drug market I am not sure if that is better than the alternative. There is no perfect solution only trade offs. So a libertarian economy when it comes to all types of drugs might be many times worse than the increase in criminal activity we have. So some things that would increase with complete legalization of all drugs. Increases in overdosing deaths, more young orphans, increase in child neglect from substance abuse, more DUI and DUI traffic accidents/deaths, increase in minors use of hard drugs(all the long term side effect to brain development that come with that), increase in domestic abuse and violence and the resulting crime from that, increases in rape, increase in petty crimes from more addicting trying to pay for their drug use, huge increases in medical cost and insurance premiums to pay for the fall out of drug abuse.

    That is what I can think off the top of my head. We don’t know how much these would go up but we don’t live in a perfect world were there will not be major negative consequences from making harmful drugs easy and cheap to get. I am not saying legalizing pot would not help but legalizing meth, heroin, cocaine, LSD, and unlimited use of precondition drugs! I think that is crazy.  You are just asking for both short term and long term problems based on the evidence we see all around. We just don’t know what the long term effects to society would be until we did and would not know how much higher it was verse the increase that might happen on both ends if we keep things as is.

    • #9
  10. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Dave Carter: What about the lives and families of the innocent victims of these imbecilic thugs?

    This is what matters. This alone.

    • #10
  11. Trinity Waters Inactive
    Trinity Waters
    @TrinityWaters

    Godspeed to Sessions and his efforts!  Lives matter, nothing else.  Great post, Sir!

    • #11
  12. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Dave Carter (View Comment):

    I Walton (View Comment):
    Sorry the war on drugs has been going on for nearly half a century and there are more overdose deaths, more addiction, more crime, more incarceration, more fines and confiscations. more failed states and gangs. Do you think maybe we could reach the conclusion that like all, repeat all, federal programs, it doesn’t work, is corrupt and corrupting, not to mention horribly expensive. It’s like Keynesian economics, it doesnt work because it needs more money? or blood letting medicine, we didn’t bleed him soon enough, or all foreign AID this place hasn’t developed because we didn’t provide enough Aid. The war on drugs hasn’t worked because we haven’t taken it seriously enough. Seriously?

    Actually, I’m very sympathetic to this point of view which, to me at least, validates some of the lessons from Prohibition. The larger point I was driving at is that while labeling Sessions’, and by extension President Trump’s, efforts to restore order to the deadly chaos of major cities as racist both in intent and effect, the prevailing bias here in Memphis grows worse still.

    I knew your point and you made it clear.  I just wanted to pontificate because the war is so destructive and is the source of income behind this chaos.  And once established the kids who get caught up in that economy we have created, move up by becoming the most brutal and dangerous.  It’s also related to our welfare culture that has created all these fatherless kids.  They have to be dealt with and police work is essential but our Attorney General is a big drug warrior so I threw a stone at him.  This will only get worse because we don’t deal with the causes and they aren’t racism, or victim hood, or poverty.

    • #12
  13. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    s

    Son of Barsham (View Comment):
    I was born in Union City and grew up in and around West TN. In my lifetime Memphis has become its own little Detroit or South Chicago. As a Tennessean it breaks my heart that this happens in a city in my home State. I hope that the common sense that I was surrounded by growing up breaks through this kind of leftist lunacy.

    As another Tennessean I want to point out that we have been trying to give that city to Arkansas for years.

    • #13
  14. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    Dave Carter (View Comment):
    The larger point I was driving at is that while labeling Sessions’, and by extension President Trump’s, efforts to restore order to the deadly chaos of major cities as racist both in intent and effect, the prevailing bias here in Memphis grows worse still.

    Yes. This drives me nuts.

    • #14
  15. Dave Carter Podcaster
    Dave Carter
    @DaveCarter

    Concretevol (View Comment):
    s

    Son of Barsham (View Comment):
    I was born in Union City and grew up in and around West TN. In my lifetime Memphis has become its own little Detroit or South Chicago. As a Tennessean it breaks my heart that this happens in a city in my home State. I hope that the common sense that I was surrounded by growing up breaks through this kind of leftist lunacy.

    As another Tennessean I want to point out that we have been trying to give that city to Arkansas for years.

    Thanks, buddy. I didn’t need that sip of coffee anyway, and it looks better spewed on the laptop screen.

    • #15
  16. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    I’m going to address the narcotics issue because I was there at creation of the war on drugs and dealt with it various roles but always looking at it as an economist not a social worker or rehab person or any of the professions who work with drug addiction.    Decriminalization is the only policy I can think of that would be worse, repeat worse than current policy.  Decriminalization isn’t legalization, and legalization needn’t mean that we treat these dangerous toxic substances like toothpaste or beer.   The libertarian approach is ideological pure but would also make half of the problem worse.  The goal ought to be to reduce the crime and chaos the illegality causes, reduce the addiction and destruction of lives the drugs cause.   Neither of these goals is addressed by the war on drugs as currently fought.   Decriminalization would make both problems worse because it lowers the cost of dealing and using drugs but keeps the business one of the most lucrative in the world.   The approach is a typical liberal nostrum that always make matters worse.  I  won’t put forth an approach because first we need a nationwide debate that starts with acknowledging that it’s a very profitable business and that the war on drugs is why it is so profitable, why there are incentives to hook new users and that after nearly a half century of fighting it, it is worse than ever, drug use and addiction is as prevalent as ever.  We don’t address it because it is always put forth that we must either treat narcotics like tooth paste or beer, or keep fighting as we fight it now.  Those aren’t the choices but we can’t address what we might do unless we start with the fact that the war is a horrendous failure.

    • #16
  17. Songwriter Inactive
    Songwriter
    @user_19450

    Concretevol (View Comment):
    s

    Son of Barsham (View Comment):
    I was born in Union City and grew up in and around West TN. In my lifetime Memphis has become its own little Detroit or South Chicago. As a Tennessean it breaks my heart that this happens in a city in my home State. I hope that the common sense that I was surrounded by growing up breaks through this kind of leftist lunacy.

    As another Tennessean I want to point out that we have been trying to give that city to Arkansas for years.

    Not only would I hand Memphis over to Arkansas, I would like to see an elevated autobahn built right over it so I never had to drive through it again. The Interstate layout through the city is positively insane.

    I long ago lost count of the number of people I know here in Nashville who grew up in Memphis.  They all left because the city was deteriorating.

    • #17
  18. John Park Member
    John Park
    @jpark

    Those who wish to decriminalize some or all drug use may be right. That said, the change needs to come from Congress; marijuana is still a Schedule 1 controlled substance the distribution of which, among other things, is still a federal crime. Other drugs are treated the same way under federal law.

    Until Congress changes the law, Attorney General Sessions should enforce it. In particular, he can direct government resources to go after the distribution side of the problem and those who engage in violence along with it.

    If that contributes to the restoration of order in our cities, so much the better.

    • #18
  19. Doug Kimball Thatcher
    Doug Kimball
    @DougKimball

    Like the mother who can’t see the sins of the son, black leaders can’t see sin among those who are also black.  They are too committed to a narrative that sees nothing but prejudice, the universal cause of all that is wrong.  But the victims here are also predominantly black.  And violent black offenders add malice to preconceptions.  Failure to reign in crime is always bad policy, but ignoring it, or partitioning it within any minority community, is far worse as it feeds prejudice, isolation,  decline and despair.

    • #19
  20. BD1 Member
    BD1
    @

    1989 – “Five homicides per day is the norm in the Big Apple, but it doesn’t take a crack-crazed gunman to kill you here – death can be as close as the nearest street corner.”

    2016 – “New York City Had a Record-Low Crime Rate in 2016 – But That’s Not the Story in Other Cities.”

    A high murder rate is a choice.  When a given community demonizes its law enforcement, the results are deadly.

    The black population of NYC, along with the white hipster progressives who have flooded the city in recent years, have significant hostility towards the police.  Eventually, they will probably succeed in demoralizing the NYPD, and New York will join the trend.

    • #20
  21. John Park Member
    John Park
    @jpark

    Peter Kirsanow, a member of the US Commission on Civil Rights, concurs with Dave and with me; he says it better than I did:

    • #21

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