Amid Controversy, Gideon’s Army Renews Taxpayer Funding Efforts

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) – More than a year after the Metro Council set aside $1 million to make North Nashville a safer place to live, a city council is closing in on a recommendation on how that money should be spent.

This board heard on Monday night from Gideon’s Army – a sometimes controversial group that had an employee killed last year in a shooting that police believe he sparked and another who was sent to federal prison for firearms charges.

Yet the members of this council, appointed by Mayor John Cooper, asked no questions about the controversies surrounding Gideon’s army.

Rasheedat Fetuga, founder and CEO of the nonviolence group, began her presentation with photos of young people who died in North Nashville.

“It’s the children and the lives that inform this work,” Fetuga said, at one point choking back tears.

Gideon’s Army has been at the forefront of efforts to halt the violence in the Cumberland View subdivision in North Nashville.

“We have four violence interrupters covering the entire North Nashville community as best they can,” Fetuga continued. “We don’t have enough people where they can actually take off and take a day and then there are still people there.”

Gideon’s Army convinced the Metro Council last year to set aside $1 million for violence prevention — money the group had hoped to get for itself.

But after NewsChannel 5 survey uncovered evidence of violence in the neighborhood during a time when Gideon’s Army claimed there was no violence, a council appointed by Mayor John Cooper decided to set up a pilot project in North Nashville.

Gideon’s Army is one of three nonprofit organizations currently competing for grants. The other two are Raphah Institute and Why We Can’t Wait Inc.

Under the current plan, two groups would receive grants of $750,000 each over two years to see what works.

Cooper Community Safety Coordinator Ron Johnson said the council is trying to implement best practices to keep our communities safe.

“The health department is the one that’s going to lead and guide all of this. I think it’s a great opportunity for everyone to learn,” Johnson said.

Last year, a shooting in North Nashville left Gideon’s Army employee, Cleveland Shaw, dead.

A just-released police report said that on Shaw’s phone “there was an abundance of drug-related communications – so much so that it was apparent that Cleveland was a high-ranking drug dealer.” level in Nashville, specifically at the Cumberland View apartments.”

A NewsChannel 5 investigation found that after Shaw began working with Gideon’s army, he was named a suspect in several shootings.

Surveillance video also showed him running through the neighborhood with an assault weapon in another shooting after being paid off by the group.

Fetuga seemed to address such controversies in his presentation.

“I really think the city, the communities, the media needs to understand the complexities that our people are facing and also that people should be able to have the opportunity to be redeemed and sometimes that takes time,” she said. declared to the board of directors.

NewsChannel 5 survey also discovered that Gideon’s Army personnel celebrated neighbors blocking police who had come to the community to arrest another of the group’s employees on federal firearms charges. These charges stemmed from his role in a neighborhood shooting.

The video also shows a leader of Gideon’s army taunting the police as “KKK”.

“With Metro Nashville Police,” Fetuga told the board, “it’s a false narrative that Gideon’s Army doesn’t get along with the police.”

Ron Johnson said he could not comment on what happened in the past.

“In the future,” he continued, “everyone will be held accountable for what they do — I don’t care who you are, including me. And we all should be.”

The mayor’s advisory group will make its recommendations in the coming weeks on who should receive the money, but the final decision will rest with the Metro Council.

See all related stories:

NewsChannel 5 Investigates Gideon’s Army

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