Dozens rally outside Memphis City Hall in support of police reform ordinances

Published: Mar. 2, 2023 at 10:43 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - In the wake of the death of Tyre Nichols, city leaders have been crafting potential policy changes for the Memphis Police Department.

Thursday, dozens of faith leaders, students, and others joined the Memphis Interfaith Coalition for Action and Hope (MICAH) for a rally in front of Memphis City Hall to demand that city leaders implement those changes.

The rally comes days before Memphis City councilors vote for a third and final time on six ordinances that would:

  • Require an annual audit of MPD’s training academy
  • Change city traffic code to prevent traffic stops for minor offenses like a broken tail light
  • Require police to only use marked vehicles for traffic stops
  • Require MPD to report case recommendations made by CLERB on police complaints
  • Require an independent investigation on use of force complaints
  • And require police to regularly report data on traffic stops, arrests and complaints

Organizers at the rally also mentioned they’d like to see city council implement recommendations from Decarcerate Memphis, including requiring officers to be in uniform when conducting traffic stops and doing away with stops for drivers committing insurance and driver’s license violations.

“These are ordinances designed meticulously for both the safety of law enforcement and citizens alike,” said University of Memphis student Richard Massey. “That’s what we’re trying to get the community to understand.”

Thursday’s rally focused on passing these ordinances, but Dr. Rosalyn Nichols with MICAH says it was also about hearing the voices of Memphis college students.

“Young people set the fire and move us towards change, and so hearing their voices, their testimonies, their experiences, and what they want to see is pivotal because they are the ones that will carry the same forward,” she said.

Dr. Nichols says young people needed a way to express themselves after Tyre Nichols’ death.

Rhodes College student Trinity Williams agrees.

“Student voices are just beginning of the power of change because we have so many great leaders from generations before us encouraging us, and so it’s our job to keep pushing our power,” said Williams.

City councilors will vote for a third and final time on these ordinances next Tuesday.

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