MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Two men caught on camera dumping trash across the street from commercial businesses came forward to take responsibility for the crime.
Friday, 20 year-old Armon Fields and 21 year-old Vrezun Tye stood at a news conference with Shelby County commissioners Van Turner and Eddie Jones to apologize for their actions.
"We know what we did was not okay. We’re fully dedicated to righting our wrongs," Tye said.
Tye and Fields were caught on camera dumping trash outside of a dance studio. Parents recorded the pair and later identified them. The two men then reached out to Jones to apologize.
"We want to apologize to the city of Memphis, the county and tax payers for what we did, and to make amends we want to pick up what we left off," Fields said.
Commissioners Turner and Jones commended the young men for coming forward. They acknowledged that it's not often someone dumps trash and then take responsibility for the crime.
The commissioners said this was a chance to teach rather than to sentence.
“All too often in our community, individuals, especially young black men and women, make a mistake and they have to live with that mistake for the rest of their lives," said Turner. "They're criminalized. They're put in the system and they never get out the system. It becomes a situation where they can never live meaningful lives in this community because of one mistake."
Jones appreciated the pair's apology. He said the larger issue of dumping still needs to be addressed and had a message for others who may get caught.
"The bigger picture is, ‘hey if you are out there trashing our city, this county, the full effect of the law will be in place for you,'” Jones said.
The two men will have to clean up their mess and do other volunteer work. Fields said he wants to do right by his community.
“Never take shortcuts in business. Just do everything legit,” he said.
Jones said while these two young men came forward to accept responsibility for their mess, code enforcement policy will still apply and they will still have to appear in environmental court. Turner said he would represent them.
Memphis Public Works Director Robert Knecht issued the following statement: "Thanks to a concerned citizen’s Facebook video and the investigative work from the City’s Environmental Enforcement team, Inspectors were able to identify the alleged suspects connected to the Parkway Village illegal dumping disposal. The suspects will be issued a citation for aggravated criminal littering as outline in Tennessee State Code 39-14-505.
This investigation is the latest example of the city’s commitment to stop illegal dumping in our communities. I am very proud of the diligence and expeditious outcome of the investigation performed by Environmental Enforcement’s team. We are extremely grateful to the citizen who captured this video as Inspectors were able to quickly identify individuals responsible for the illegal dumping activities and take appropriate actions.
The Parkway Village location is just one of several illegal dumping sites Environmental Enforcement is investigating. City residents are advised to report illegal dumping to the 311 Call Center. This allows the city to re-evaluate future deployment of surveillance cameras and prioritize the efficient use of its resources."