MEMPHIS, Tennessee (AP) – Friends and associates of murdered rapper Young Dolph were handing out turkeys for Thanksgiving at a nearby church on Friday in Memphis, Tennessee, two days after he was shot in broad daylight. at his favorite bakery.
Known for charity work in his hometown, the hip-hop artist and label owner helped organize an event at Saint James Missionary Baptist Church and was about to attend before he was fatally injured on Wednesday.
Undaunted members of his music label Paper Route Empire, along with church volunteers and community activists, handed out dozens of turkeys, minced meat mix and cranberry sauce – and said “Happy Thanksgiving” – to people passing by the church.
This was the type of event that the young Dolph, who grew up in the Kastalia area where the church is located, has been organizing for years, often without reporters and cameras present on Friday. Before the event, the volunteers talked quietly to each other or sat in solemn contemplation while his music sounded outside the church on a sunny afternoon.
B.B. Jones, 38, helped hand out food in honor of his 30-year-old friend.
“When I hear his music, I just break,” said Jones, who spoke to a reporter from the rear bumper of a U-Haul truck full of 300 turkeys. “The truth is in all this, and where he came from, this is something that really does get to me sometimes. This is what he would like us to do right here, keep giving. He came out of nothing, but he wanted to make sure everyone had a little. ”
On Friday, police continued their search for murder suspects, which shook Memphis and shook the entertainment world. Police released surveillance video footage showing two men exiting a white Mercedes and shooting Young Dolph before fleeing.
The murder of 36-year-old Young Dolph, whose real name was Adolph Thornton Jr., has intensified screams against the violence in the Memphis area, where high-profile gunfire at a K-8 school, post office and grocery store has been seen in the past. two months.
There have been 255 murders in the city of Memphis this year, up from 244 last year, according to the Memphis Police Department. This is in addition to the thousands of firearms incidents reported in September this year.
In filing for Young Dolph’s murder, Shelby County Health Director Dr. Michelle Taylor called the Memphis gun violence an epidemic.
“The key to solving the never-ending cycle of gunfire and retaliation in our community is to heal the traumas of generations that make violence seem like the only solution to conflict,” Taylor said.
Some community leaders have expressed frustration that there are so many attempts to address the issue of gun crime – public gatherings, efforts to attract police officers, increased funding for crime prevention, commemoration days for murder victims, working with ex-gang members to intervene in disputes – did not lead to success. have worked.
Van Turner, the local NAACP president and father of two, said he spoke to his boys about the shooting. Turner plans to host a forum next week to discuss strategies for deterring gun violence.
“I’m kind of torn because people say we always do these things and nothing happens,” Turner said. “But then, if we don’t do anything, what will happen? Nothing. But this does not mean that we will stop. If we don’t do anything, we will give up. ”
The Reverend Jason Lawrence Turner, Senior Pastor of the Historic Christian Church on Mississippi Boulevard, worked to solve the problem of gun crime and mentor young people in Memphis. He said it was time to “correct course.”
“It will take the cooperation of government agencies, primarily churches and citizens, to contribute to the prevention of these incidents of violence,” the pastor said. “And besides, instill a lot of responsibility in the community so that when such cases arise, the members of the community do not have to take justice into their own hands.”
His church, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, has established mentoring programs for girls and boys in middle and high school. The church has also hosted three schools for children to talk about their concerns and fight bullying and other threats.
“It’s not just law enforcement,” Turner said. “Law enforcement agencies appear after a crime has been committed. We are obliged to prevent the commission of these crimes. “
Like Jones – a record company employee – and other longtime friends, Sheena Crawford called Young Dolph, nicknamed Mane Mane.
She fondly recalls playing with him and his sisters in the area where their grandparents lived, near the Church of St. James. According to Crawford, he loved to play basketball and was a relatively quiet child.
Grieving, Crawford is also frustrated at the lack of progress in tackling gun violence.
“My anxiety just goes wild,” she said. “When I go out the door, I am afraid that something will happen to me or something will happen to my children. It doesn’t make any sense. ”