For the last 14 years, the city of Nashville has played host for the national Night Out Against Crime — a growing trend that spawned 45 different block parties last year.
Tuesday night, the city estimates that 55 neighborhoods will host a “night out” — a concept based on what organizers say: When you get to know your neighbors and the police officers who work in your neighborhood, crime goes down.
To raise awareness and vie for media coverage, community groups will try almost anything to increase turnout, said Scott Wallace, community relations coordinator for the Mayor's Office of Neighborhoods.
Perhaps aware of the rising number of events, the group Antioch Together is trying a new approach Tuesday.
A coalition of neighborhood groups in the Antioch area, the group will be hosting its community-wide Night Against Crime event from 6-8 p.m. at Hickory Hollow Mall on Bell Road just off Interstate 24. This event will feature musical artists, community leaders, a children’s play area, exhibits from local businesses and discounts from mall food vendors.
“We know that many neighborhoods have their own gatherings,” said the Rev. Jay Voorhees, director of community and neighborhood relations for the group. “But we wanted to have something that is reflective of the entire Antioch area.
“Antioch is often misperceived as a high crime area,” he added. “I hope that folks will come together at the mall to say clearly that we all stand together against crime in this area.”
Representatives from the Metro Police department will be on at the mall, and at most other Night Out venues, to help persons think about how to battle crime in their neighborhoods.
“We believe that it is only through coming together that Antioch will overcome many of the challenges that we face.” Voorhees said, a sentiment shared by all neighborhoods.
Similarly in north Nashville, four neighborhood associations — Buena Vista, Hope Gardens, Salemtown and Germantown — have joined to coordinate a walk to the Bicentennial Mall.
Each group will leave its neighborhood at 6 p.m. and gather for a party at the future home of the Museum of African American Music, Art and Culture along Jefferson Street just east of the Bicentennial Mall.
Night Out Against Crime is hosted nationally by the National Association of Town Watches.