American Freedom Tour responds after call to keep MPD away from event

Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 11:13 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Former President Donald Trump’s American Freedom Tour makes a stop at the Landers Center in Southaven, Mississippi on June 18.

As of Thursday, June 2, no local law enforcement agency had been asked to provide security for the event, at least not yet.

Memphis City Councilman Martavius Jones doesn’t want Memphis Police to give the former president an escort to the arena, which is a 15 to 20 minute drive south of the airport in Memphis, Tennessee.

Councilman Jones told Action News 5 his reasons are financial, not political.

“He’s notorious for not paying,” said Jones, “When you talk about these rallies, there are huge expenses that various jurisdictions have to pay, and these expenditures are not being reimbursed by the Trump campaign or Trump organization.”

The Center for Public Integrity reported in 2020 that Trump owed nearly $2 million to 14 different police agencies and local governments for protection provided at his rallies.

The City of El Paso told KXAN-TV last month it’s still waiting to be repaid more than half a million dollars for a 2019 event.

Councilman Jones and Councilman JB Smiley Jr, a democratic candidate for Tennessee governor, plan to introduce a resolution to the full council next week, that asks the Memphis Police Department not to provide any manpower or resources for Trump’s appearance.

“He’s no longer the president. He has a Secret Service detail, I think that’s sufficient,” said Smiley.

Larry Ward, a spokesperson for the American Freedom Tour, said the councilmen’s proposal is “mean-spirited, partisan, preposterous and penurious.”

“Perhaps,” said Ward, “the Memphis City Council should consult with the good members of the Memphis Police Department about withholding security for President Donald J. Trump, the 45th President of the United States. I am not sure they would agree with the proposal, as protecting presidents is and has always been an unambiguous national security priority.”

Action News 5 checked with MPD. Public Information Officer Major Karen Rudolph said, “If we are asked to assist any federal partner regarding the safety of a group or individual, we will assist.”

MPD also said it had not been contacted by the American Freedom Tour.

Lt. Dallas Wolfe, the PIO for the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, told us “SCSO has protocols to be utilized if asked to assist by other law enforcement agencies. Operational details are confidential and we would not release details about security plans.”

According to Tish Clark with the DeSoto County Sherriff’s Department, “Nothing specific has been set up yet. The Secret Service will contact us and Southaven Police to put a plan in place.”

Clark went on to say “DCSD provides inside security for all events that occur at Lander’s Center because it is a county taxpayer owned building. This event will be no different.”

And a statement from the Landers Center read “Secret Service is in charge of security, as they were for his 2018 visit.”

When asked if the American Freedom Tour paid in advance or had outstanding bills, Landers Center Executive Director Todd Mastry replied “The American Freedom Tour is in compliance with the contract.”

Action News 5 also reached out to the U.S. Secret Service. As a former president, Donald Trump receives Secret Service protection for the remainder of his life.

“Due to the need to maintain operational security,” Special Agent Steve Kopek said, “the U.S. Secret Service does not comment on the means, methods or resources used to conduct our protective operations.”

Action News 5 also contacted the Southaven Police Department to see if SPD has been asked to help provide security for the event. SPD did not reply to our request for comment.

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