Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Memphians Stage First Public Rebuke of MPD's List

Posted By on Tue, Feb 21, 2017 at 7:42 PM

click to enlarge Brandon Taylor steps on a provided scale to be weighed-in, a gesture meant to poke fun at MPD's gathered intel for those listed as requiring poilce escort when entering City Hall. - MICAELA WATTS
  • Micaela Watts
  • Brandon Taylor steps on a provided scale to be weighed-in, a gesture meant to poke fun at MPD's gathered intel for those listed as requiring poilce escort when entering City Hall.

"A" is for activist.

At least, that was one of the ideas tossed around among a crowd of 60 people gathered outside of Memphis' city hall. 

The crowd was there to collectively voice their dissent against the recently released list of more than 80 names deemed worthy of a taxpayer-funded police escort when on the City Hall premises.

Those gathered in front of City Hall let their discontent be known through pinning scarlet letters to shirts, a direct literary mockery of being branded as dangerous enough to require police escort in a municipal building.

Adding to the arsenal of creative clap backs, a scale jokingly referred to as the "scale of justice" was set out for voluntary weigh-ins, an additional poignant hat-tip towards the intel gathered by the Memphis Police Department and added to names appeaing on the list, along with a lister's height and race.

Most of those who gathered outside of City Hall were not actually on the MPD's watchlist, but showed up in support on those that were, particularly those that have been publicly known for their involvement in past political protests.

"What are they watching?", asked Shiloh Good, "Are they combing our Facebook posts? Following us home from protests? What?"

Good was not on the list, but like many attending Good was there to show support and solidarity with those listed.

The day's action is the latest in a series of responses to the list, which was compiled by MPD, signed off on by Memphis mayor Jim Strickland, and released following an open records request by The Commercial Appeal.

In the time since it was made public, Strickland has claimed that many of the names on his list were compiled for an authorization of agency — a protective order that Strickland filed following a staged "die-in" on his front lawn in which protestors were reportedly peeking in through the windows of Strickland's private home.

Strickland ascertains that he signed off on many of the names appearing on the list under the notion that it was part of the AOA order, and that MPD is ultimately responsible for its creation.

MPD director Michael Rallings has declined, as since has since the list's release, to explain any criteria that would warrant an individual's name being added.


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