The city of Memphis, which slashed retirement benefits for police officers following the shooting of Michael Brown in 2014, is now running billboard campaigns urging young men not to commit murder.
An image purportedly showing one such billboard was posted to the X social media platform (formerly known as Twitter) by ScienceIO CEO Will Manidis.
“Anti-murder billboards are an incredibly effective economic indicator,” he quipped. “My hometown just got its first.”
Manidis noted that the image was from Memphis. but that he was aware of another similar effort in Pennsylvania.
anti-murder billboards are an incredibly effective economic indicator
my hometown just got its first pic.twitter.com/6utC7D0JLl
— Will Manidis (@WillManidis) November 20, 2023
Memphis Discouraging Violent Crime – ‘Real Men Don’t Murder’
The “Real Men Don’t Murder” PSA appears to be very real and promoted by the city of Memphis itself. The link on the billboard goes to a site promoting the same message with the city of Memphis and Crime Commission logos associated.
Local television station ABC 24 notes that one of the men used for messaging in the PSAs is Jerald Trotter, who can be seen in several of the videos on their site.
What makes Trotter an expert on the matter?
“Trotter’s speaking from experience you might recognize him from a PSA from the city of Memphis and Crime Commission,” they report. “He said his temper got the best of him 22 years ago. That’s when he served time after a deadly shooting.”
Now he’s explaining to boys growing up in Memphis that “real men don’t murder.”
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“Real men don’t murder,” Trotter declares in one of the videos. “Real men don’t kill women and children.”
That’s right – the “real men don’t murder” spokesperson for Memphis actually murdered somebody.
“The situation got out of hand. I ended up killing someone that I shouldn’t have killed,” he told the local ABC affiliate.
I was today years old when I learn’t anti-murder billboards were a thing… how strange!
What % of potential murderers are so on the fence that a billboard will sway them I wonder?
— Ewan Makepeace (@ewanmakepeace) November 20, 2023
Defunding The Police Led To Lower Standards For Recruits
Aside from being an “economic indicator,” observers might also draw another parallel: the defund the police movement in Memphis that slashed benefits for police officers and prompted the department to lower hiring standards.
The Washington Post, citing police-involved shootings such as that of Michael Brown in 2014, reported that the Memphis Police Department had “relaxed academic, disciplinary and fitness standards at its training academy in an effort to fill widespread vacancies.”
The vacancies were a result of pensions being slashed at that time. The need to fill those vacancies led to hiring recruits without so much as a formal interview.
I can’t believe these exist. Wow.
At least they could be try to be a bit clever with it like, “killing people is rude.”
Curious about the psychology here and who funds such things. Hard to believe it has… any effect. But who knows.
— Doug Main (@Douglas_Main) November 21, 2023
Brown’s shooting had been deemed “justified” by the Obama Justice Department, but the “defunding” pro-law enforcement critics contend that it led to the lower standards and “a renewed focus on diversifying law enforcement” within the Memphis police department.
These changes reportedly contributed to the heinous killing of Tyre Nichols at the hands of five black Memphis police officers in January of 2023.
“The changes,” the Post relayed, “created conditions that made incidents like the Nichols beating more likely.”
And quite possibly, prompted a need to post billboards begging people not to murder each other.
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