But why is there no equal fervor by federal authorities in the case of Memphis? There is a police and government cover-up in the city of Memphis, and this includes the local media and civil rights organizations. There is also massive fear of and intimidation of the local population by the MPD. There is the additional fact that Memphis is a black city and that most of the police murder victims were black and poor, and that most of Albuquerque's victims were white and Hispanic.
The feds must be forced to explain why there is no racism in their decision not to investigate the deaths of Memphis citizens. We are also convinced there is some political calculation about an investigation in Memphis because the U.S. attorney for Western Tennessee is so close to city politicians and police department administrators that he covers for their almost routine use of excessive and deadly force by police officers, and has never prosecuted any officer for taking the lives of civilians.
We are asking you to help us bring attention to these police crimes in Memphis and get these cops put in jail. We ask that you help expose the crimes and break the media blockade. We want more than reforms. We want all the cops who have outright murdered civilians to be prosecuted; the demilitarization of the police; and community control over the police and power in the hands of the people.
The Police Brutality and Racial Profiling Committee of the Memphis Black Autonomy Federation was created at the First Memphis Black Power Conference on June 9, 2012. Its purpose is to educate, organize and mobilize the black community and its allies to oppose police brutality, unjustified deadly force, and violations of the civil and human rights of African/black residents of Memphis and beyond and bring and end to this terror. Using a combination of litigation, street protests, educational seminars, and other grassroots actions and events, this committee is active in working to bring a halt to police crimes and their cover-up by the local media.
An end to police murder(s) by police officers, and the cover-up by Memphis-Shelby County/federal government officials of these police crimes. The automatic investigation and prosecution of any officer who violated the civil rights of civilians, instead of cover-up by cops to protect officers. No Memphis officer has ever been prosecuted for murder or civil rights violations for beating or killing a civilian, even where it was plainly obvious that they were guilty.
An automatic public inquest into the death of any person who died in police custody. An inquest would require the police to testify under oath as to how a person died, force the medical examiner to testify under oath as to autopsy findings, and allow the family, activists, and the public to obtain records and testimony kept from them. Mainly, it is a way to expose the crimes of the police and not accept the cops' stories that are repeated in the media.
Community control of police and the creation of an elected police control board to restrict the use of deadly force and to monitor the police. As long as the cops can use a government-appointed body to cover up crimes by the cops, or force us to trust their “word,”every single murder will continue to be swept under the rug.
Stop the racial profiling of the African-American community, especially in the Beale Street entertainment district, where many have been arrested and beaten up by overzealous MPD officers, who want to discourage lack Memphis residents from patronizing white businesses in that area. Full investigation of the June, 2012, death of Christian Freeman killed by cops in the Beale Street area.
Proposal for a “Stop Police Murder: Prosecute The Cops” Campaign By the Memphis Black Autonomy Federation
Memphis police officers have killed 23 people since February, 2012, eleven people in 2013 alone. Yet, to this point, the opposition black human rights movement has not been able to assemble a strong enough mass protest movement to pressure the city government to change its deadly force policies or pressure the federal authorities to abandon their policy of deliberate indifference.
Since the summer of 2012, when the Memphis BAF started organizing against police brutality, we have held a number of marches and street demonstrations, rallies at the MPD police headquarters downtown, tribunals at public spaces, and other events. There are two key things we must do now:
1. Put together a mass local effort to enlist people into a Black Autonomy-IBWC Copwatch campaign in Memphis to report and monitor the cops on a daily basis. (Copwatch is already an international movement, and has been around for the last 20 years). We need to unite all those in Memphis and our allies in other cities who will stand up and demand justice in police murders that have taken place here.
2. During the 2015 IBWC conference, work toward a mass protest in Memphis, to involve anti-police brutality, anti-racist and civil rights activists from all over the city and Mid-South region. There are groups all over the USA and 19 countries involved in anti-police brutality work, who have been having demonstrations against police brutality on the “International Day of Action Against Police Brutality (IDAPB),” every year on March 15 since 1997. In 2013, we had a IDAPB demonstration in Memphis for the first time, and groups came from 10 other cities to stand with us. Now, we need to contact and inspire people in this city and get them to speak up against police brutality in Memphis. We must break through the silence and demand, “Stop Police Murder, Prosecute the Cops!”
In addition, protests at Memphis Police Department headquarters at 201 Poplar Avenue should continue, and we should try to get more people to participate locally. This summer, we should also hold a mass meeting and a community hearing about the problem of police murder, brutality and corruption in Memphis.
Finally, although we seek the prosecution of police officers who commit murders of black people, this campaign is not just about the federal authorities taking over the Memphis Police Department or an FBI investigation into an individual case. Our campaign is meant to build a new anti-racist movement for community control of the police. This is what the original Black Panther Party called for, and this is what we should fight for as well.
(a) Write to the U.S. Department of Justice in support of our demand that they open a civil rights investigation and prosecute the killer cops. Memphis is worse than Albuquerque, and needs to be investigated Make a phone call to the Civil Rights Division, and demand that they stop ignoring the reign of police terror in Memphis.(202) 514-4609 (Ask for Jocelyn Samuels, Acting Asst. Atty General). You can also contact them by email: AskDoj@usdoj.gov and give them the message.
(b) Join our "Million E-Mail March" and send letters of complaint to A.C. Wharton, Mayor of Memphis, TN. (email@example.com). Tell him that he has blood on his hands by his repeated failures to rein in his cops, covering up the causes of police murders of civilians and allowing police brutality to have a free hand.
(c) Join the Ida B. Wells Coalition Against Racism and Police Brutality, founded by the Memphis Black Autonomy Federation in 2013. In addition to Memphis and the Kansas City metropolitan area, IBWC chapters are now being organized in several other cities. The IBWC is the only group in Memphis which has held mass protests against KKK racism and MPD police brutality over the last two years, and is working on a online international boycott, petition drive, national demonstration, and other campaigns to obtain justice for the victims of this police terror.
(d) Please spread the message about police brutality and murder in Memphis by contacting news services, human rights organizations, anti-police brutality groups, citizen journalist websites, and many others that you are in contact with. We must break through the cover-up by the cops, local media, and political power structure in Memphis, and expose the awful truth.
(e) We need to use the Internet and especially online social media networks to the maximum extent possible, since it is inexpensive and reaches millions. In doing this, we can involve large numbers of poor and low-income black people and anti-police brutality activists and families of police murder victims. We need to create a blog of Memphis Police activities to expose their crimes, educate the masses of people in Memphis and beyond, and rally people into protests.
We cannot win this battle alone. Join with us in this fightback campaign against police terror.
Peace and love,
JoNina M. Ervin, Acting Co-Chair
Ida B. Wells Coalition Against Racism and Police Brutality
(in care of) Memphis Black Autonomy Federation
P.O. Box 16382
Memphis, TN. 38186-0382