Monday, July 11, 2016

MPD Chief: Protest Like 'Juggling 500 Hand Grenades'

Posted By on Mon, Jul 11, 2016 at 9:38 AM

click to enlarge BIANCA PHILLIPS
  • Bianca Phillips

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland will meet Monday afternoon with Black Lives Matter (BLM) members and others after a tense protest Sunday evening on the Hernando-DeSoto Bridge.

About a 1,000 Black Lives Matter protesters stopped traffic on the bridge Sunday, in an action against recent police shootings of black men.

Strickland said Monday’s meeting at Greater Imani Church will be one of many meetings with members of the community.

When asked about the next, perhaps more-tangible steps, the mayor would take, interim Memphis Police Department (MPD) director Michael Rallings said that would he plans to hear from the community first.

“I’m here to hear the community and then we’ll lay out the next, tangible steps,” Rallings said. "We will talk to each other and then look at the next steps. We do not want to put the cart in front of the horse.”

Strickland said Sunday’s was the “most successful resolution to a protest in the U.S. that I know of.” Rallings commended MPD officers in what was “probably the most tense situation I’ve ever been in my 26 years of law enforcement.”

Strickland said he gathered his leadership at Memphis City Hall Sunday evening. However, Strickland did not make an appearance at the protest. He said he was directed by Rallings to stay away but that he was in constant contact with MPD about the situation.

Rallings said safety was his top concern for the mayor and for the the protestors on the bridge. “I had my hands full,” Rallings said, noting that balancing the situation, which included “some tough dudes on that bridge and some tough girls” was like “juggling 500 hand grenades.”

Rallings called for 30 days with no killing and said that it is “time for dialogue.”

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