The Memphis Black Panthers: Tell Me What You Want To Do! An Obituary on the Last Day of the Memphis Police Violence Awakens
Protesters took to the streets over the weekend to speak out against police brutality after a video showing the beating of a Memphis man by police was released.
Ben Crump said on CNN that if we didn’t use Nichols’ death to get the George Floyd justice in policing act passed, we’d be ashamed.
The heads of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees, as well as Republican and Democratic congressional leaders, are acknowledging a possible role for federal legislation after President Joe Biden mentioned failed legislation on Friday.
The Congressional Black Caucus is requesting a meeting with Biden this week to push for negotiations. The Congressional Black Caucus is calling on the Senate and the House to speed negotiations and work together to address the problem of police violence that disproportionately affects communities.
The Tennessee State Conference NAACP president called on Congress to respond during a Sunday evening news conference in Memphis. You are writing an obituary for a black man because you failed to craft and pass bills to stop police brutality. You have control of the blood of Black America. Stand up and do something.
The Expansive Police Reform Act That Eliminated Quasi-Civil Litigation in 2021 Revisited
The legislation was first introduced in 2020 and then again in 2021, and it was designed to stop police officers from escaping consequences for their actions by moving to another jurisdiction.
According to a fact sheet on the legislation at the time, the measure would also allow “individuals to recover damages in civil court when law enforcement officers violate their constitutional rights by eliminating qualified immunity for law enforcement.”
The legislation would save lives by prohibiting chokeholds and no-knock warrants, and would mandate deadly force be used as a last resort, according to the fact sheet.
The bill twice cleared the House under Democratic control – in 2020 and 2021 – largely along party lines. But it never went anywhere in the Senate, even after Democrats won control in 2021, in part, because of disagreements about qualified immunity, which protects police officers from being sued in civil court.
The senators from New Jersey and South Carolina tried for six months to forge a bipartisan deal that would get 60 votes in the Senate.
In the spring of 2021, Booker told reporters that they weren’t making progress at the negotiating table. We were actually moving away from it in recent back-and-forths. The negotiations we were in stopped. The work will continue.
The expansive policing bill targeting racial bias and use of force was named for another Black man who was killed by police; Mr. Floyd’s death in 2020 at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis shocked Americans and led to a movement for police reform.
The Collapse of Legal and Democratic Accountability in American Policing and the How Police Reform Has Impacted Minor Traffic Violations
Federal grants and technical assistance can be used by the federal government to help local law enforcement get on board, but they cannot be mandated by the president.
The absence of legal and, especially, democratic accountability is, or should be, an existential problem for any police reform agenda. Without a strategy to curb or break the cartel power of police departments — meaning their ability to undermine, neuter and subvert all attempts to regulate and control their actions and personnel — there is no practical way to achieve meaningful and lasting reform, if that is your goal. The transformation of American policing will only happen if the public is able to exercise control over the institution.
State officials started investigations into the local police departments because the federal government couldn’t take on every case nationwide.
And, in some cases, local governments have taken their own steps. In the year after Floyd was killed, at least 25 states had considered some form of qualified immunity reform. In 2021, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, signed into law a series of police reforms that created a system to decertify law enforcement officers found to have engaged in serious misconduct – joining the majority of states that have similar decertification authorities.
In 1991, a video showed a Black man, named “Rodney King”, being beaten by Los Angeles police officers. But the beating of Nichols is actually much worse because it shows that after nearly 32 years, the needle of police reform has barely moved, and seemingly minor traffic violations continue to lead to the deaths of Black and other minority men and women in police encounters.”
You could say that back-end accountability is legal while front-end accountability is democratic. The collapse of the former and the absence of the latter are found in American policing. “Police departments are too often insulated from legitimate citizen challenges,” Amy E. Lerman and Vesla M. Weaver write in “Arresting Citizenship: The Democratic Consequences of American Crime Control.” People are denied effective mechanisms for holding the police accountable.
American police officers have extraordinary power to work their will as they see fit. Sometimes local rules are different but generally speaking they’re able to stop and frisk if they suspect that you’re armed and dangerous. It’s possible for them to stop and conduct a warrantless search of your vehicle without a warrant if there is a probable cause that someone is committing a crime. The police have no obligation to either protect or assist you, even in the face of a credible threat to your life, and they are virtually immune to legal consequences for their actions under the doctrine of “qualified immunity,” with so few exceptions — like the almost immediate arrest of the offending officers accused in the killing of Tyre Nichols in Memphis — that it essentially proves the rule.
The Memphis Interfaith Coalition for Action and Hope (MICAH) Revisited During a Traffic Stop: The Case of Tyre Nichols
Lawmakers, clergy, and activists once again called on Congress to act as mourners filled a church in Memphis to pay homage to one of their own.
“We need to get that bill passed,” said RowVaughn Wells, Mr. Nichols’s mother. “Because if we don’t, the next child that dies — that blood is going to be on their hands.”
The Democrats want the federal code changed to make it easier to prosecute individual officers. The Democrats’ bill would also include restrictions on the use of deadly force except as a last resort.
Editor’s Note: Rev. Dr. Rosalyn R. Nichols is the president of the Memphis Interfaith Coalition for Action and Hope (MICAH), a coalition of community and faith-based organizations in Memphis, Tennessee. Rev. Ayanna Watkins is lead organizer and executive director at MICAH. The views expressed here are the authors’ own. Have a read on CNN.
Even though he no longer exists in the physical sense, his story isn’t over. As we fight for change in his memory, we are confident that he lives on in our faith traditions.
We’ve been down this road before — as a city, as a country, as Black and brown people. We keep hoping it doesn’t happen again — and then it does. Tyre was trying to get home to his parents after he survived a traffic stop. And he knew, just as well as the rest of us with Black and brown skin, that getting home was not guaranteed.
Though we had not yet seen the video, we had seen the image of a swollen, battered young man in his hospital bed. We were told of what had happened to him by his family’s lawyers. He had a mother who could barely watch the first minute of it. So, without seeing, we knew.
Still, it seemed the city had entered a tense pause. Waiting to see: Would this time be different? Is this case of death-by-policing going to lead to any change in law enforcement? Do we really hope there will be true justice for Tyre, when he had not been treated fairly before?
As we waited, the names and faces of five Black officers came across our screens. Betrayal was added to the anger and grief we were already feeling. Betrayal, but not surprise. As Black and brown people, we have plenty of experience with our people becoming instruments of White supremacist culture.
The videos confirmed that it was time to fight for our lives again. We continued doing that in the days since.
The story of our work begins with that question and has guided it since. In the months after the killing of Darrius Stewart, a coalition was formed. A few years later, we formed a working group calling for greater transparency from the MPD. Today, MICAH continues to work alongside powerful activist organizations such as Decarcerate Memphis and Official Black Lives Matter Memphis for data transparency and with the Justice and Safety Alliance to turn public attention and voter engagement toward a new vision of public safety.
If we in the community don’t know what standards and practices police are supposed to be holding themselves to, how can we be expected to accept the notion that only a “few bad apples” are the culprit? We need to see what rot is embedded in the tree itself.
MPD has also reportedly dramatically lowered its recruitment standards for new officers – including requiring previous police or military experience. The former lieutenant told the Associated Press that anyone could be a police officer. The police department did not provide any comment on hiring standards but multiple news outlets quoted the police chief as saying that supervision of less experienced officers is crucial. She said, “Culture eats policy for lunch in police departments.”
We have also long called for Memphis’ Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board (CLERB) to have subpoena power. It is left to make recommendations to the Police Department, because the body that should have community oversight in cases of police conduct has now been systematically emasculated. An ordinance was recently proposed that would require reporting on what happens to CLERB recommendations received by MPD – as a step toward greater accountability from MPD and authority for CLERB.
New Jerusalem Church: Fighting for the Future of the City of Jackson and the Case against State Legislative Whist Outbursts
In the parking lot of New Jerusalem Church in Jackson, Mississippi, volunteers handed out free cases of bottled water to a line of arriving cars last week – a new normal in a state capital that has struggled with the fallout of a failing water system.
But inside the church, a parade of pastors and organizers addressing the crowd railed against another threat they described as dire to the city’s future: their state legislature.
Republican state lawmakers want to take control of the city of Jackson and make it more difficult to vote, said Danyelle Holmes, a local activist. We’re being told to be quiet. They’re banking on us to back down.”
She wore a t-shirt that showed the political mood at the event and embodied the siege mentality that city leaders say they are feeling. Everyone.
The controversial bill would expand the Capitol Complex district and create a new judicial district with state government appointees who could hear cases in the district. The judges would be appointed by the state Supreme Court chief justice, and prosecutors would be appointed by the state Attorney General, both of whom are conservative White elected officials.
State legislatures dominated by Republicans have had similar power struggles with big city governments over issues like public safety.
The State Legislature is Coming to an End: The City of Jackson Becomes More Inclusive, More Crime Free and More Secure in the State Capitol
A modified version of the bill stripped of some of its most controversial provisions passed a state Senate committee Thursday – although they could be added back in as the two legislative houses come to an agreement.
Some locals say they’re also concerned about how both versions of the bill would lead to a dramatic expansion in the jurisdiction of the state-run Capitol Police.
“It is taking us back in time and it puts us on the wrong side of history,” Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba said in an interview. “It’s colonization, it’s apartheid, it’s the worst of what Mississippi can be.”
Republican lawmakers pushing the bill said it was needed to address huge court jams and stem violence in the city. Jackson reached a record number of homicides in 2021, with one of the highest murder rates in the US, although the number fell last year.
The House version of the bill was praised by a University of Mississippi law professor.
As White residents moved out to the suburbs, Jackson’s population fell nearly 25% from 1990 to today. At the same time, the city went from about 56% Black then to about 83% Black now – the highest percentage of any major city in the US.
In 2017, state legislators aiming to help support the city created the “Capitol Complex Improvement District” to fund street repairs and infrastructure projects in the neighborhood surrounding the state Capitol, where government office buildings sit near empty storefronts.
The legislature added funds for Capitol Police with bipartisan support last year. The department used to be a sleepy one but since the middle of last year it has significantly increased in officers and SUVs are pervasive downtown.
Some defendants are waiting months or longer for a trial because of a large amount of criminal cases in the county courts.
The Jackson School District and Jackson Public Safety Commission: Is the Jackson Police Department a Good, Fair, and Fair City? An Analysis of a Jackson, MS, Redlining Project
The district would encompass the museums and Capitol building downtown, as well as most of the business district of Jackson, which also houses the University of Mississippi Medical Center and Jackson State University.
The new district looks similar to a redlining map from the 1960s, when it was used to deny loans in minority neighborhoods.
“There are too few law enforcement officers, too few prosecutors, too few public defenders, and too few judges to effectively administer justice,” Lamar, who represents a rural community two and a half hours north of Jackson, wrote in a recent op-ed.
Local leaders argue that local elected judges are better suited to make decisions than appointed judges.
Assuming the amended bill passes the full Senate, the two legislative houses would have to iron out the differences in a conference committee in the coming weeks.
A coalition of activists and faith leaders have organized against the bill, holding rallies on the Capitol steps and at churches around the city, and are planning to fight it out in court if it becomes law.
The bill is on solid legal ground thanks to the fact that the elected judges could appeal the decisions of the court if they so chose.
The proposal would go against the Voting Rights Act and violate the state constitution, argued the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi.
Black people in a city are going to be second class citizens and have no say over their policing or their judicial system. “It’s blatantly unconstitutional.”
The city-run Jackson Police Department has also faced allegations of excessive force in recent years, and has suffered from understaffing and long 911 response times. Residents say that the department is accountable to their elected officials, unlike state-run Capitol Police.
A person who works at the Capitol Police did not respond to questions about the criticism. At the community meeting shortly after Lewis was shot, state Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell spoke about the loss of life and said that the Capitol Police practices were the way they should be.
The shooting is still being looked into by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and so it can’t give you more details right now. The department didn’t reply to a request regarding the other four incidents, but they were investigated by the MBI.
Capitol Police are supposed to protect and serve, but who will protect us from them? Smith asked in an interview. She said she will leave if the department’s jurisdiction is expanded.
Critics say the plainclothes unit is just like the Memphis Police Department’s notorious Scorpion Unit, which was halted last month after a national uproar over the beating of a young man.
A Capitol Police Officer and a Regional Board to Take Control of Jackson’s Water and Sewer System, As Sustained by a State Attorney General
A friend of Lewis’ who was in the car with him during the shooting told the family that they had realized they were being followed but didn’t realize the car behind them was a police vehicle, Arkela Lewis and her daughter Alexus Lewis said.
A high-speed chase across the city that ended with gunshots occurred when a Capitol Police traffic stop of a stolen vehicle. A bullet that broke through the wall of Smith’s apartment in northwest Jackson hit her daughter asleep in bed and left her with an arm injury as she slept. Two bullet holes still adorn Smith’s wall – and a bullet remains in her forearm.
A brief statement by the Capitol Police at the time said that an “officer-involved shooting” had taken place that night and “shots were fired” next to Smith’s apartment. The MBI would investigate the shooting but has not released any further information.
When a Capitol Police officer pulls up behind people on the road, people call the pastor at their church and request that he stay on the line.
The city, which has experienced a water quality crisis that has forced residents to rely on neighborhood distributions of bottled water, received about $800 million in federal funding for water infrastructure upgrades, most from a spending bill that passed Congress last year.
But another bill currently being debated in the state legislature would create a new regional board to take control of Jackson’s water and sewer system, with a majority of board members being appointed by the governor and lieutenant governor. That has raised the alarm of the federal monitor appointed to oversee the system.
In Missouri, a new bill would let the governor strip locally elected prosecutors of the power to handle violent crime cases. The move comes as the state attorney general is trying to oust the Democratic St. Louis prosecutor from office over allegations of neglect, which she denies.
In North Carolina, GOP legislative leaders have signaled that they may block Charlotte, the state’s largest city, from issuing a sales tax that would pay for a major expansion of its public transit system. The state house speaker has called the plan impractical.
And in Tennessee, the state legislature is moving forward with bills that would effectively cut Nashville’s city council in half and take state control over the city’s airport and stadiums – after the city council killed a bid for the 2024 GOP convention.
At the same time, local leaders in conservative corners of blue states have also clashed with their state governments – from California sheriffs who refused to enforce mask mandates during the pandemic to New Mexico’s Democratic attorney general suing local towns that have passed restrictions on abortion.
While tension between city halls and state capitols has long been a fixture of American government, experts say the fights are becoming more frequent – and more high-stakes – as the nation’s politics become more polarized and acrimonious.
One 2021 study found that GOP legislators were more likely than their Democratic colleagues to vote for proposals to limit local governments’ authority, and that those efforts were most common over “hot button” issues like guns and LGBTQ rights.
In some cases, rural legislators target liberal cities as “a way to score political points” and “pour a little more gas on the culture wars,” said Keith Boeckelman, a political science professor at Western Illinois University, who co-authored the paper.
In Jackson, some locals say that the bad blood over the criminal justice bill will remain even if the farthest-reaching proposals don’t make it through the legislative process in the coming weeks.
“No, no, no”: a message to the church that Jackson’s plight does not extend to the taking, but to the people who do
After she ended her chants of kill the bills. The activist in the movie,Holmes was at the church rally last week. EVERYBODY” shirt, sat in the front pew and took stock of the situation.
It feels like some of our leaders want to get a piece of Jackson for themselves. “So, it’s very important that we continue to say that Jackson is not for the taking.”