Redline: Kids in Crisis, Part 1

The end of the Civil War spawned the dawn of a day in Meridian with the birth of a new community. Identified in later years as 'Redline,' it was an area just yards away from downtown that was founded and settled by African Americans.

"Union troops were garrisoned, I understand, just where Barber and Son's is. And it is thought that the African Americans who settled in Meridian after the war felt safer near the Union troops," said Billy Beal, local historian. "Education and religious institutions after the Civil War start in this area."

The home of many doctors and educators for the black community, residents have had, and continue to have, a sense of pride. However, the problem is that some of the community's former glory has been replaced with guns.

In doing this story, I knocked on doors for days trying to get residents to talk on camera about crime within the area. Many were afraid of retaliation. But four willing to talk openly about the problem.

"It was just a peaceful neighborhood," said J.T. Clark.

Clark moved to 'Redline' with his wife, Miriam, fifty years ago. He says things have changed, mainly due to people from the 'outside' coming in.

"They're people that come through the neighborhood," said Clark. "We don't even know them."

Clark and the others we talked to say many of the 'drifters' are young people passing through, who leave their mark often with damage caused by gunfire.

"They're in their cars and just shooting out of their cars for no reason," said Miriam Clark. "A lot of people in our neighborhood say they have had to dodge. One of our neighbors said he had to hit the floor."

"I said, 'Ain't nobody shooting that many times', but they were," said Mable Stringfellow.

In late September, a house, an apartment building and several cars were punctured by gunshots in a weekend drive-by.

Two months prior to that, an elderly woman in the area was shot while walking in front of her house.

To the dismay of these residents, this type activity is becoming the norm. Residents are calling on the city to do something about it.

"They haven't done anything yet. So, that's why we are we are here. We've got to have something done about it," said Clark.

In Part 2 of this special report, find out what the city says it is trying to do to solve this problem.


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