1 year after bridge protest, community and police discuss relationship

Protesters on the I-40 bridge last year (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Protesters on the I-40 bridge last year (Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - One year after protesters shut down the I-40 bridge in Memphis, each side held a conversation to discuss the differences that have been made in the past year.

While some believe the conversation that took place should have happened last year, activists and police leaders agree that it was a step in the right direction.

Many of the same people that were on the bridge that night sat down to discuss the relationship between the community and police.

"We've got to collaborate with not only the police department, but we have to have a city leadership," Devante Hill said.

Police Director Mike Rallings mentioned the rolling out of body cameras, the collaborative effort with the Department of Justice, and the ongoing dialogue with the community as signs of progress.

"It's never a perfect relationship. We've learned from different things, so again we are open to continuing to dialogue, are open to work on these issues," Rallings said.

Not all activists and panel members agree; some pointed out that body cameras were already being rolled out before the bridge protest.

"To come up with policies and plans and lay out a vision, and they put more earnest on us on the ground to get it done," pastor Earle Fisher said.

Others pointed to the "City Hall escort list" as an example of a lack of integrity by MPD.

"Dog and pony shows, smoke and mirrors," Fisher said. "When what we want is structural change."

Both sides agree, however, that it will take more than a year to see long-lasting change.

"Is it reasonable to expect for some of these complicated issues to be resolved when we know these things take time," Rallings said.

The event was hosted by the Memphis Association of Black Journalists, and organizers announced that they had opened an invitation to Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, who had a previous commitment.

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