MEMPHIS, Tenn. — With homicide rates, America is in a state of emergency.
“You have things like a pandemic and people getting sick, people losing jobs, and funds aren’t what they’re supposed to be in the home. You talk about situations where they’re already living in a tight situation and then people losing jobs. These things get exacerbated,” Saving Absalom Founder Jerald Trotter said.
Here in Shelby County, the number of homicides is rising and we're only five months into 2022. So far, 98 homicides have been recorded.
That's just about the same number reported this time last year and by the end of 2021, Memphis saw a record number of homicides.
Activists hope this year will not have the same ending.
Jerald Trotter served time for shooting and killing someone 22 years ago. Now he's the face of a public service announcement from the city of Memphis and the Crime Commission.
The "Real Men Don't Murder" ad encourages men to put down their guns and stop the violence.
“Young men are frustrated because they don’t know exactly what it is to be a man, but they know they’re supposed to be one,” Trotter said.
His organization, Saving Absalom, promotes anti-gun violence which has a similar message: "Masculinity does not equal violence."
“It’s an age-old story of not having a role model in the house … putting down perspectives of what a man actually is. So you leave it up to that young man to guess. He’s getting his manhood instructions from rap music, from movies, videos, and guessing at what manhood is,” Trotter stated.
He added that stopping the violence often starts at home.
“When your father’s world isn’t right when your mother’s world isn’t right, then your world isn’t going to be right," Trotter explained. "The girls are out here fighting, but I don’t think they’re doing as much gun violence as the boys are, so I don’t really think the girls are driving up the gun-violence number.”
Experts agree the solution to ending gun violence will take several approaches. In the meantime, Memphis residents and anti-violence advocates are desperate for it to end.