Whalum thinks it's getting personal after media banned from speaking event - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Kontji Anthony

Whalum thinks it's getting personal after media banned from speaking event

Action News 5's Kontji Anthony is denied access to the school. Action News 5's Kontji Anthony is denied access to the school.

He came under fire for saying the next Memphis School Superintendent should be a black man. Now, school board member Kenneth Whalum is sounding off about the state of school security.

It got a bit hectic Tuesday outside of Hamilton High School after Whalum invited the media to a Black History Month event he was scheduled to speak at.

Members of the media were banned from the program, with school officials sounding a siren and using a megaphone to keep them off campus.

School officials were explicit in their denial of access, even though Whalum had sent a press release to news reporters inviting them inside.

A guard told the group his head of security would not allow it.

"Directly from Mr. Sam Moses, the media need to be on the sidewalk," Whalum said. "I hear the siren and I hear them on the loud speaker, 'no cameras on school property,' it's just ominous to me."

Whalum said it appeared to be getting personal after his calls for a shut down of Memphis City Schools for them to get a handle on security following two school shootings that happened just a week apart.

One of those shootings happened at Hamilton.

"I've spoken at countless schools across the city.  You guys have been there to cover me and this has never happened before," Whalum said.

He said his Black History message was to call for students to stand up and take back their schools.

"All I'm trying to do is keep it real with them, and challenge them to make a difference themselves," Whalum said.

He said the schools must be transparent.

"When this kind of thing happens, it looks like there's something to hide.  I don't know what anybody would have to hide," Whalum said.

A Memphis City Schools spokesperson said the denial of access was not an attempt to hide something, but rather the decision is at the discretion of the school's principal, and whether he or she thinks the media will be a distraction.

This time, the spokesperson said, said the principal wanted to keep the focus on the children.

To the school system's defense, there is an understanding that cameras are off limits on campus because minors are present. However, members of the media have covered special programs in the past.


Click here to e-mail Kontji Anthony.

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