Second lawsuit filed against Memphis over illegal surveillance

Published: Mar. 1, 2017 at 4:47 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2017 at 5:12 AM CST
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A group dedicated to helping Memphis fast food and homecare workers improve their wages and working conditions filed a lawsuit against City of Memphis.

Mid-South Organizing Committee (MSOC) is a labor group that's been working in the Mid-South since 2013. One of their top priorities has been to advocate to get fast food workers a higher wage (specifically $15 an hour).

MSOC said Memphis Police Department and City of Memphis targeted the group and used illegal surveillance to intimidate the group and suppress it's ability to organize and peacefully protest.

"It's outrageous that the police would do this," attorney Jerry Martin said.

Martin represents MSOC. He said police officers used iPads to record protesters on video and even followed a vehicle full of protesters home after a meeting.

The group said several members were also placed on the City Hall's so-called "blacklist." MPD has since removed the activists from the blacklist saying their names ended up on the list by accident.

"We want the police to lay off, and if they won't agree to that, we will get a federal court to order it," Martin said.

Memphis Police Department Director Mike Rallings said his department has not been conducting political surveillance.

"The security book is not politically motivated," Ralling said.

City of Memphis Chief Legal Officer Bruce McMullen released the following statement about the lawsuit:

"The City of Memphis is aware of the lawsuit but has not been served.  However, based on what we know about the allegations made in the complaint, we do not believe the lawsuit has any merit."

This is the second lawsuit filed against the city over accused illegal surveillance.

The City of Memphis filed a Motion to Dismiss on the first lawsuit, which was filed February 22.

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