Strickland responds to I Am a Man Commemoration keynote speaker's criticism

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said a controversial keynote speaker at this weekend's I Am a Man Commemoration needs a fact check.

Monday, Strickland fired back at CNN commentator Angela Rye and said a lot of her criticism of the Bluff City was wrong.

"I think the city was unfairly attacked," Strickland said.

Strickland said the parts of speech seemingly bashing the city of Memphis and the work done were false.

"She said that Memphis pays more for police than education, and that is untrue," Strickland said.

The mayor's office released a breakdown of the numbers.

Memphians pay state and county taxes for Shelby County Schools, which has a $1.3 billion annual budget. Last year, Memphis Police Department had a budget of $258 million.

Rye said Memphis and the country can do more to address poverty and education.

"We've known poverty has been too high in Memphis," Strickland said. "It has been for decades but the difference is we're actually trying to do something about it."

The city said it works alongside a third-party vendor for the MLK50 events, and now they're taking steps to be more careful when it comes finding speakers.

"This type of thing won't happen again," city communications director Ursula Madden said. "We're going to be very careful about vetting going forward and not relying on our third-party vendors to do that for us. I think that was a mistake that we made."

Click here to read the mayor's newsletter, which breaks down different topics and how city leaders say it has improved.

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