City of Memphis files federal motion asking for 1978 consent decree to be modified

City files federal motion asking for 1978 consent decree to be modified

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The city of Memphis has filed a sealed motion in federal court, asking a judge to modify a decades-old consent decree that bars the Memphis Police Department from gathering political intelligence.

Last August, a federal judge found the city violated a 1978 decree when MPD used a fake Facebook account to spy on activists and put together a so-called “Blacklist” of activists requiring police escorts to enter city hall.

Because the filings are sealed, city officials said they cannot outline any details about their request.

City attorney Bruce McMullen said the decree, in its current form, prohibits the department from carrying out modern-day police work.

“That has been an ongoing struggle with us trying to use 2019 technology and crime fighting best practices to fit it within a 1978 consent decree. And there are incidents where we have struggled and felt it impractical for us to do proper law enforcement,” said Bruce McMullen, City of Memphis chief legal officer.

Last year, the judge ordered MPD and the ACLU of Tennessee to work with a monitoring team to make sure that the city complies with the decree.

It's unclear when a ruling on this new motion will come.

The ACLU of Tennessee said it could not comment on the filing.

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