NAACP joins other groups to protest Jeff Sessions' Memphis visit

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions will visit the Bluff City to speak with law enforcement two weeks after he called out Memphis in a speech about crime.

Sessions will be in Memphis on Thursday to speak with federal, state, and local law enforcement about efforts to combat violent crime and restore public safety.

Sessions received push back from lawmakers when he brought up Memphis earlier this month while discussing a plan to cut back on crime. He cited the rising opioid addiction and violent crime rates in Memphis, along with cities such as Chicago and Baltimore.

Memphis City Councilman Berlin Boyd said the remarks were misguided and insulting.

"I find it quite insulting for him to categorize Memphis with some of the larger cities like Chicago," Boyd said.

Earlier this month, Sessions promoted tougher sentencing and directed federal prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges possible against the majority of suspects. Many local lawmakers came out publicly to say they don't agree that tougher sentencing is the solution to reduce crime.

Multiple groups in the city are planning to formally protest Sessions' visit.

All those groups are united in one protest that will take place at City Hall just before Sessions speaks next door at the federal courthouse.

"He's trying to turn back the times when it comes to mass incarceration - specifically of African-Americans," Memphis NAACP branch president Deidre Malone said.

Malone said she felt it was critically important that the NAACP attach their name to a planned protest of Sessions during his Thursday visit.

"We believe that people's rights are trying to be turned back and so it's important that individuals that feel the same way come out and stand with us tomorrow," Malone said.

The protest begins at 9 a.m. Sessions will speak at 9:30 a.m.

Sessions will also hold a private meeting with Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell and Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and some other officials.

Strickland said he will ask for more federal help to fight crime in Memphis and specifically to fight gangs.

Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings released a statement that said:

"I am pleased to have the opportunity to meet with Attorney General Jeff Sessions. I look forward to speaking with him about the possibility of bringing more resources to the city of Memphis and its police department."

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