MPD releases list of those on Memphis City Hall's 'Blacklist'
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The Memphis Police Department has released the names of all people required to have an escort while inside of City Hall. Many local activists are on the list.
"I was asked to come out to the foyer by a MPD officer," Fergus Nolan said.
Nolan came to the WMC Action News 5 Investigators after he said MPD officers stopped him from entering Council Chambers at last week's City Council Meeting.
He told us he has never seen the list, but was told by officers that he was on the escort list for his activity at the "Die-In protest" outside of Mayor Strickland's house.
Nolan says he wasn't even at that protest. He was however, at this "Save the Greensward" protest on Memorial Day. Nolan said he was arrested, but added those charges were later expunged from his record.
"I have a completely clean record; there is no reason why I should be on the list," Nolan said.
WMC Action News 5 Investigators filed a Freedom of Information Act request, asking for the list of people requiring an escort at City Hall.
We found out, not only was Nolan on the list, but so were dozens of other community activists including Frank Gotti, Pastor Earl Fisher, and the mother and aunt of Darrius Stewart--the teenager shot and killed in 2015 by a MPD Officer.
"It would be amusing if it wasn't so illegal," Paul Garner with Mid-South Peace and Justice said.
Paul Garner from Mid-South Peace and Justice is also on the list--twice. He is listed on this sheet, which is signed by Mayor Jim Strickland. Like Nolan he said he was not at the "Die-in protest" at the mayor's house, but was recently arrested at the anti-pipeline protest at Valero Memphis Refinery.
MPD released the following statement about the list:
"City Hall is a municipal public building; however, peace and safety for all citizens and city employees who are within City Hall is paramount. Like with all government facilities, security measures are in place. There are individuals who require an escort within City Hall, i.e. disgruntled employees who may have been terminated, individuals who have been named on an authorization of agency and individuals who are subject to orders of protection."
Nolan and Garner said none of the reasons listed apply to them.
City Hall released the following statement:
"City Hall is open to the public, but peace and safety for all citizens and city employees in this building is important. Like all government buildings, there are security measures in place at City Hall. People who require an escort may include disgruntled employees who have been fired, people named on an authorization of agency, and individuals who are subject to orders of protection. It is the professional assessment of the Memphis Police Department's Homeland Security Bureau that individuals on the list pose a potential security risk. It's important to note that these individuals have not been banned from City Hall. They simply require an escort. The Memphis Police Department maintains this list, and is responsible for providing security at City Hall."
Of the 81 people on the list, only 27 were identified as being disgruntled former city employees or having an order of protection.
Nolan and Garner said this list violates a Consent Decree on Political Surveillance, which is part of the MPD Policy and Procedure handbook.
The policy states, "The Memphis Police Department does not engage in political intelligence" and that " no member shall intercept, record, transcribe or otherwise interfere with any communications by means of electronic or covert surveillance for the purpose of political intelligence gathering."
"This is why people do not trust government. This is why people do not trust law enforcement; it's because of this," Garner said.
Mayor Jim Strickland released the following statement:
"City Hall, I have never seen the security list at City Hall, and it is my understanding that this type of security list for City Hall was created years ago by MPD. No one has been denied entry or access to City Hall. I have heard the concerns about the list, so I have asked Director Rallings to thoroughly review the policy and meet with me next week to discuss next steps."
Tuesday, protesters plan to gather outside City Council on Tuesday to demand an explanation from Mayor Jim Strickland and an apology. The protest is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.
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