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Fear of Gang Wars if Memphis High Schools Merge

The Unified School Board wants to merge George Washington Carver High School and Booker T. Washington High School to save money, but some students warn that will put their education, even their lives, at risk.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Students fear that combining two Memphis high schools will set off a turf war between rival gangs. The Unified School Board wants to merge George Washington Carver High School and Booker T. Washington High School to save money, but some students warn that will put their education, even their lives, at risk.

"The homicide rate is just going to shoot through the air,” said Carver High School Senior Romero Malone.

That's how serious the gang problem will escalate if Carver High School closes and merges with their rival, BTW High School.

"They both clash a lot. It’s really based off of territories, not necessarily gangs even though there are a lot of different gangs in the community area which all play a factor,” said Malone. "It's like putting the Crips and Bloods together in a national convention."

18-year-old Malone and 17-year-old KeMario Davis attended Tuesday night's school board meeting, pleading the board not to merge the two high schools together.

"Carver High School, in essence, has a legacy and a deep heritage of the students that came from there and it's the center of the south Memphis community,” said Malone during the school board meeting.

“We're tired of people trying to kill our community,” said KeMario Davis, also a Carver High School student.

Both Davis and Malone say they understand the board is trying to save money, but their peers won't care and would rather fight to defend their "turf."

"We had a gang earlier in the year where BTW threw bricks at Carver buses,” said Malone.

Malone fears the merger will put his peers’ lives at risk.

"If a dollar bill is more important to you than keeping the school doors open and saving students' lives then I urge you all get out your tablets, your iPads, and your pens right now and shut Carver High School down today,” said Malone as he walked off the podium Tuesday and the crowd cheered.

Students say this is not a school board problem, it's a city and county problem. That's why they're inviting both mayors to attend a community meeting at Bloomfield Baptist Church next Tuesday, May 7th at 6:30 p.m. where they'll talk about keeping the schools open and revitalizing the communities.
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