City leaders, activists continue conversations for change

Updated: Jun. 17, 2020 at 9:57 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The third of four planned meetings between Memphis and Shelby County leaders and activists fighting to end police brutality wrapped up Wednesday, June 17.

Devante Hill, leader of multiple peaceful protests in Memphis, described talks with Mayor Jim Strickland, Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris, Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings, Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner, members of M.I.C.A.H, local clergy and community stakeholders as positive and meaningful.

“This city is going to adopt the Breonna Taylor ‘no-knock’ warrant ban,” Hill told WMC Action News 5. “Which means that officers will not have the ability to make the mistake that happened in Louisville, Kentucky.”

Taylor is the 26-year-old EMT who was shot and killed in her own bedroom on March 13 when three police officers serving a “no knock” warrant broke down her door. The officers were looking for a drug suspect who lived 10 miles away and was already in police custody, according to the Courier-Journal.

Hill says another policy change being discussed would prevent Memphis Police from firing at a car in motion.

“We don’t want to take the safety away from the officer,” he said. “But we also want to create scenarios where the officer isn’t escalating the situation immediately based on their ability to say their life was in danger or threatened. I think the city’s going to find itself on the right side of history as it pertains to shooting at a moving vehicle.”

Earlier in the day, Sheriff Bonner announced a new “Duty to Intervene Policy” directing SCSO deputies to intervene and report the use of excessive force by another deputy. Bonner told Shelby County Commissioners it’s a modified version of a policy that already existed.

Hill plans another march through the city on Friday, June 19, one that he says will honor the importance of Juneteenth, which is the date marking the final emancipation of the last slaves in the United States.

Protesting for police reform, he says, is just part of the battle to save black lives.

“We can change policy all day,” he said, “We can change laws all day long. But until we change the heart of man, real change hasn’t taken place.”

Activists have a list called “8 Can’t Wait.” It’s a list of 8 Use of Force policies they want implemented, including banning chokeholds. The Memphis Police Department says seven of the eight are already in place. And like the sheriff’s office, MPD also has a Duty to Intervene policy.

The final meeting between community leaders and activists is scheduled for next Wednesday, June 24.

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