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201 Poplar renamed after longtime commissioner Walter Bailey

(WMC Action News 5)
Updated: Oct. 26, 2018 at 5:23 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The Shelby County Criminal Justice Complex at 201 Poplar has a new name.

The complex is now named after a prominent Shelby County commissioner and lawyer.

For years, Memphians have called the Criminal Justice Center on Poplar by its numerical address, 201.

“At long last this building famously known as 201 Poplar will be given a real name,” said Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner.

That new name is the Walter L. Bailey Jr. Criminal Justice Center, named after the former county commissioner.

Bailey was all smiles as the newly minted signs were unveiled Friday afternoon.

(WMC Action News 5)

“This is indeed an honor and I take it with great humility,” Bailey said.

Bailey was the longest serving county commissioner in Shelby County history, sitting on the commission for more than 40 years.

As a lawyer, Bailey is a civil rights icon involved in desegregating Memphis schools and representing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the sanitation strike in 1968.

Bailey is most famous for the landmark Tennessee vs. Garner case that he took to the Supreme Court and won.

That decision ruled law enforcement could not use deadly force unless their life was threatened, a definition still used across the country.

“Every single law enforcement officer is taught the case to this day,” Sheriff Bonner said.

It was standing room only at Friday’s ceremony as political figures and fellow lawyers congratulated Bailey.

“I look upon this recognition as a symbol,” Bailey said. “A symbol not just of Walter Bailey but a symbol of a history and evolution of progress in this city.”

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