The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Ryan Taranelli reports today o
n the arrest of Chris Alexander,
41, on drug and gun charges and details
his work in an organization, Better Community and Family Values,
aimed at reaching youths with positive activities and discouraging gang involvement.
Alexander's arrest was the work of a joint federal-state-local task force target gangs and violent crime. Alexander is described as a former gang member. City officials say they have no indication that Alexander's alleged criminal activities were enmeshed in his community group work.
Pending questions: Was Alexander and/or his organization on the list of recipients of city money paid to nonprofits that provide "prevention, intervention and treatment" services for at-risk youth, such as mentoring of gang members? It brings to mind, too, what progress has been made — and who's been hired and paid — in Mayor Mark Stodola's
recently announced "CeaseFire" program to hire people with "street credibility" to "engage disconnected youth and young adults." We'll follow up today.
UPDATE: The city says four people have gone to work as street "intervenors." They are
Wayne Burt ($15/hr), William Graves ($12/hr), Kenneth Parker ($12/hr) and Larry McClendon ($12/hr). And also, the community group is not on the list of agencies that have received money for youth intervention programs.
Alexander was arrested for possession of large amounts of marijuana and multiple firearms, despite a past record — 11 felonies in all. The jail docket indicates charges include a charge of failure to appear in district court and criminal possession of body armor. The investigation began with the discovery in July of marijuana in Alexander's apartment. Officers were investigating the fatal shooting of his cousin. Further seizures were made in a traffic stop of him Tuesday and in a search of his business in Jacksonville.
The D-G article noted that the community group for which Alexander worked took its name by
choosing more positive words beginning with the same initial letter as gangs — Bloods, Crips, Folks and Vice Lords,
Chris Alexander Facebook page photo on Sept. 9 has been getting some circulation around town today.
Mayor Mark Stodola wrote me later to say that he'd gotten in touch with Alexander after a family shooting. Police were concerned he
might retaliate. "I met with him and urged him to help us put an end to the retaliatory shootings .
He promised me he would and was interviewed on TV and told everyone he had promised me he wouldn’t retaliate. Sometime after that
I discussed with him the Mohammed family who had been mentioned prominently in the investigations. I wanted to talk with the family and he said he could arrange my meeting with them. I did so and spent about an hour and a half with them urging an end to the violence. The pictures you put up were taken at that time out in the street."