MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Editor's note: WMC Action News 5's Kontji Anthony joined the "No More" awareness campaign last year. Members of P.E.R.L. did not interrupt the mayor's news conference as previously reported.
People for the Enforcement of Rape Laws or P.E.R.L. stood in solidarity Thursday with protest signs at a news conference as the mayor boasted about significant progress being made in the testing thousands of back-logged rape kits.
"This is a major priority for us to deliver justice and simply do what is right," Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said.
New MATA bus ads that feature the Memphis Grizzlies "core four" will soon be seen around town as an effort to bring awareness to the Memphis Say No More campaign.
It is part of a nationwide effort launched a year ago coordinated by the Memphis Area Women's Council, the campaign engages local leaders and survivors in posters, television ads, radio spots, and personal narratives with messages meant to change behavior and attitudes about these crimes and to guide survivors to the help they need and deserve.
The city said the initiative is also data driven.
"Periodically we will be doing additional research to analyze how effective the campaign is being," Memphis Sexual Assault Kit Taskforce official Dewanna Smith said.
Still members of P.E.R.L. believe the campaign is a coverup meant to hide the city's failure to test rape kits in a timely manner and properly investigate sexual crimes.
"The 'No More' comes in and helps them clean up the mess, and it really doesn't benefit survivors in any way shape or form," protester Whitney Wood said.
As a domestic violence survivor, Wood said the city's campaign data doesn't exist and the campaign is simply not effective in changing laws or enforcing them.
"It could be a really powerful campaign, the imagery is very powerful, the words are very impactful and I think it could be doing a lot of good if it wasn't just being used as a tool to cover up misbehavior," Woods said.