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Former Gang Member Mentors Memphis Youth

By June 2, 2014 Comments
Fox13 Memphis, 10:00 News, May 19, 2014

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Dionysus Sisson has lost count of how many times he went to jail on gun charges.

He was general of the Chicago gang Black P. Stones.

“Bicycle riders, gang bangers, the drug sellers and I wanted to be them. They cracked a lot of jokes, they had a lot of fun,” he said.

Sisson finally got out of the gang life after 20 years; a stint in the federal system made him change his ways. He said it is easier to get out of gangs than mainstream media portrays, adding gangs “don’t keep attendance.”

After 20 years of gang life, he transformed to mentor hoping to keep teens away from guns and gangs.

“Everybody aiming for that and thinking something going to turn out different for you,” said Sisson, “It’s going to turn out the same way: You either going to be in jail or you going to be dead.”

Thomas Norphlet, Founder and Executive Director of the Youth Foundation, brought Sisson on board to help with mid-south youth.

“We need to put somebody who they respect to get them to make better decisions,” he said.

Sisson said he’s learned from Memphis youth that they get guns by robbing houses and buying them from addicts; he adds that guns for the youth are about portraying an image.

“They fantasize about guns because they see all the activity that’s on TV and the news. It’s an image you’ve got to hold in the community,” said Thomas, “They have no experience with guns, no training, no nothing; so they just shooting and they don’t even know how to shoot.”

Both Norphlet and Sisson agree that Memphis does not need more community picnics or more gun laws to end youth gun violence and gang activity, but rather it needs more mentors that can relate to the challenges youth are facing. 

“Guys that are already caught gun cases, like myself, that can get out there, walk with them, talk with them,” said Sisson, “Because if you tell a kid something and you don’t so call relate or resemble them in a way they don’t understand where you’re coming from.”

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