Friday, October 12, 2012
Oct 20 Rally Against Memphis Police Brutality
Black Autonomy Copwatch
c/o Memphis Black Autonomy Federation
P.O. Box 16382 – Memphis, TN 38186-0382
For Immediate Release
October 10, 2012
Oct. 20 Justin Thompson Protest
To Demand Community Control
Of Memphis Police
(Memphis, Tenn.) – Memphis needs a civilian police control board to curb the use of deadly force within the city’s police department, say the organizers of an Oct. 20 city-wide march and rally to protest the killing of Justin Thompson.
Marchers will assemble at 10 a.m. in front of the Fed Ex Forum at 191 Beale St., next to the Rock and Soul Museum. At 11 a.m., the march will begin to a rally at City Hall, 125 N. Main St.
“There is a culture of violence within the Memphis Police Department, and as a result, the use of deadly force is out of control,” said JoNina Ervin, acting chairwoman of the Memphis Black Autonomy Federation. The federation’s program, Black Autonomy Copwatch, is sponsoring the march and rally.
Memphis police officers shot and killed Thompson, 15, and four men in the past eight months of this year. “This is unprecedented for a city the size of Memphis,” Ervin said.
Black Autonomy Copwatch proposes the creation of an independent civilian police control board, elected by the voters. Unlike the city’s current Citizens Law Enforcement Review Board, which is an advisory body, the Community Police Control Board would be a civilian authority elected from districts all over Memphis.
Ervin said the board would be an independent group, with hiring and firing authority; subpoena power to investigate both administrative and criminal violations by police officers; and power to restrict the use of deadly force to serious, life-threatening situations.
It would take a city-wide petition campaign to put the issue on the ballot, which could change or amend the Memphis City Charter, Ervin said. Black Autonomy Copwatch would seek volunteers throughout the city to help with the campaign.
Ervin said that Black Autonomy Copwatch is becoming part of the international copwatch movement and will set up a city-wide hotline for people to call in complaints about police abuse and corruption. “We are also encouraging citizens to use their cell phone cameras and camcorders to monitor the police. These recordings will be put online at the Tennessee Copwatch website.”