Memphis anchor Joyce Peterson summed up the attitude in a lot of urban environments today when she broke down on air over rising crime and the loss of life.
“Memphis is tired right now. Yeah. I’m good. I’m with you all,” Peterson said. “Memphis is tired right now. … It’s difficult right now. Bear with me. It’s a very nerve-wracking night.”
Peterson’s emotion — which is refreshing — stemmed from the news of a Memphis man livestreaming his rampage on Sept. 8 when he carjacked and killed several individuals. The suspect, only 19, had a lengthy criminal record. Initially charged with attempted murder in another case, he pled down to aggravated assault and only served 11 months of a three-year sentence. He was out of prison mere months before his killing spree.
Just a couple of days before that story broke, Memphis police announced they had discovered the discarded body of Eliza Fletcher, 34, in a vacant lot. Fletcher was abducted and brutally murdered while out jogging in the early hours of Sept. 2 near the University of Memphis campus. Fletcher was a popular teacher in the community, a wife, and mother of two young boys.
Friends described her as being somebody constantly filled with joy that went the extra mile to check up on and cheer up her young students during COVID-19 lockdowns. Her life was snuffed out because a violent criminal, who was already convicted of kidnapping, was out of prison.
Memphis, already weighed down by sobering crime statistics, is saddled with what many would describe as a woke district attorney. During his campaign, the new district attorney has signaled he is more interested in equity and light bail over addressing lawlessness. More importantly, the consequences are becoming all too clear when criminals are let go with little to no bail or lenient prison sentences altogether.
Asheville made national news this week over rising crime and an anti-policing culture infecting the city. Violent crime there is up 31% in five years. Crime is up nationally, but Asheville’s is up twice the national average.
An Asheville officer speaking on the condition of anonymity pointed to the district attorney’s office for the rise in crime.
“Crime will continue to rise when there is no accountability for subjects of a crime,” the officer said. “Officers overlook so many things because they know that it will go nowhere in court.”
Ironically, woke politicians support more gun control but their policies are creating a greater firearm demand for self-protection. A recently updated study from the National Firearms Survey shows that more racial minority groups are firearm owners than past data revealed. Women are now over 42% of firearm owners. Furthermore, nearly a third of firearm owners report that they have used a gun to defend themselves, which means there are a little over 1.6 million defense uses per year.
Numbers like that will increase if criminals are allowed to rule the streets.
Returning to Fletcher, her tragic ending is a reminder that there is always a deeply human element to the victims of crime. More important than the politics of criminal justice, two little boys lost their mother. She was a favorite teacher to many and a well-loved member of Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis.
Life is already exceptionally hard for parents trying to raise their children. They shouldn’t have to worry about being attacked by strangers who are empowered or emboldened by soft-on-crime policies.
Many woke prosecutors want to reimagine justice by sidestepping the legislative process and the rule of law — sending a flashing light that government doesn’t support policing efforts.
The bottom line is that cities shouldn’t be this dangerous. And the politicians who encourage that atmosphere or turn a blind eye should feel ashamed.
Ray Nothstine is Carolina Journal opinion editor and Second Amendment research fellow at the John Locke Foundation.