Nashville, Tennessee is one of many U.S. cities dealing with an increase in violent crime, but one local social justice group believes it has the answer. Gideon’s Army, which proclaims on its Facebook page that it is working to “eliminate the root causes of the prison pipeline, save our children from death and incarceration and guide them on a secure path to success”, says that as a result of its outreach efforts, violent crime in the city’s Cumberland View public housing project has virtually disappeared for almost a year. That’s an amazing outcome, but as local television station WTVF reports, the boast appears to be too good to be true.
Gideon’s Army’s efforts have brought them national attention, along with taxpayer money and public donations.
The group’s tax returns show that, in 2019-2020, the group took in almost $1.5 million – some of that taxpayer money from the Tennessee Department of Human Services.
Other organizations, like the gun-control group Moms Demand Action, have also contributed.
This summer, [Rasheedat] Fetuga and her group convinced Metro Council to approve another million dollars for violence interruption programs like theirs.
Part of their pitch: their record in Cumberland View.
“We had no shootings, no homicides, no robberies, no carjackings, nothing for almost a year, 10 months — and that’s been unheard of,” Fetuga told NewsChannel 5 back in June.
The only problem is that when WTVF actually checked the crime stats, they found at least 38 calls to police in that ten month period from residents of the housing project; including several calls about shootings and shots fired. One of those incidents involved a shootout at Cumberland View involving a paid employee of Gideon’s Army; a convicted killer named Charles Brooks.
How does the founder of Gideon’s Army explain the discrepancy? Simple.
Fetuga said the shoot-out allegedly involving her own employee doesn’t count.
“There’s a difference between shootings and contact shootings,”
We followed up, “Between what?”
“Shootings and contact shootings. What we measure is who has been shot.”
Because no one was hit by the gunfire, Gideon’s Army doesn’t count it as an act of violence.
Nor did it count a gun battle in July 2020 between two rival gangs — again, apparently, because no one was actually hit.
There was also an incident a month earlier when a chase that began in Cumberland View ended with one car running another off the road a few miles away. Calls to 911 described an exchange of gunfire between the vehicles.
Multiple witnesses identified Gideon’s Army volunteer Cleveland Shaw, a local gang figure, as the suspect in the case.
Two weeks later, when a man was actually shot in the neighborhood, the Gideon’s Army volunteer was again identified as the suspect.
The group didn’t count that one either.
Now, to be fair, statistics do show that there’s been a slight decline in the number of police reports for things like robberies, “person with a weapon”, and shots fired in the Cumberland View neighborhood over the past couple of years, but Gideon’s Army hasn’t been claiming that they’ve reduced acts of violence. No, they’ve been boasting that they’ve eradicated violent crime in the community, which is clearly not the case. And the fact that several employees of the organization have allegedly been involved in shootings should ring some alarm bells within city government and groups like Moms Demand Action that have provided the group with outside funds.
Something tells me, though, that Michael Bloomberg or Shannon Watts, won’t be asking Gideon’s Army to return the donation from the anti-gun group. In fact, I doubt that anyone with Moms Demand Action really wants to talk about the organization’s troubles. Why would they want to highlight violence interrupters who are accused of being violence perpetrators unless they could use these incidents to push for more restrictions on legal gun owners?
For those of us without a personal or financial stake in Gideon’s Army’s success, however, these incidents are really impossible to ignore. At the very least, the city of Nashville should be casting a more critical eye on the groups that are receiving taxpayer funds, and I would argue that those funds should only be directed to organizations who are willing to work with local law enforcement along with pushing their own intervention strategies. It sounds to me like Gideon’s Army and other “gun violence prevention groups” need more oversight, and the local media shouldn’t be the only ones providing it.