Breaking News
More () »

'I know the smallest thing can help turn a life around' Memphis violence intervention group expanding

Starting May 1, '901 Bloc Squad' is doubling mentors - including former gang members - to inspire a different path in Memphis' most crime challenged communities.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The stakes remain high in slowing violent crime across Memphis, at risk of setting new record highs in homicides and children shot for the third straight year.

That's why the violence intervention group 901 Bloc Squad is growing and adding former gang members to show young people there's hope and a different path available.

"The wakeup call was when I had all the money, the feds came in, they took everything, I realized, this is not worth it," Alex Crane said.

That's the moment Crane said he ended the gang life after years leading it in the Memphis' Westwood community.

Before, he'd been shot twice and left for dead once.

"I remember when the surgeon came into the room and he saw my eyes open, he said, 'aww man, I thought you were dead,'" Crane added.

RELATED: Attorney representing family of man killed on Beale Street asks for answers

He lived to tell the tale and now lives a different lifestyle, mentoring others to follow a different path.

In a recently released YouTube video, Crane and former members of other local gangs urged non-violence and offered new hope to Memphis' youth.

It caught the eye of Delvin Lane, who leads 901 Bloc Squad.

"We are seeing the kids getting younger and younger who are getting shot, getting arrested and we just want to put an end to it," Lane said.

Inspired, Lane recently hired Crane and Marius Hampton.

Starting May 1st, both men are part of the doubling of the City of Memphis funded group, going from 25 to 50 mentors.

"I know the smallest thing can help turn your life around and just to know I can be a small part of that it gets me stoked," Hampton said.

The direct intervention includes work diffusing tension in schools and also when the school year ends in crime challenged and gang heavy neighborhoods.

"It's going to get hot, school is going to let out, kids need someone to be able to turn to, someone to talk to, that's who we are," Hampton added.

RELATED: Opinion | Memphis Police Chief’s important and costly lessons on crime in the bluff city | Otis Sanford

 "We know when it heats up, it heats up, so we are trying to bring some coolness to that," Lane said.

Both Crane and Hampton said they can't wait to get started and use their own past negative actions to inspire a positive change with young people.

"If he change and say it's no good, maybe I should listen, he could be on to something, because he know something," Crane said.

 "I understand their outlook, I understand if they feel like they don't have a choice," Hampton said.

The 901 Bloc Squad will soon allow mentors to focus on 10 targeted areas.

Before You Leave, Check This Out