The Memphis United Coalition will host a conference devoted to police reform on Tuesday, December 17th.
The "People's Conference on Police Misconduct" begins at noon at St. Patrick's Church (277 S. Front) with a "Know Your Rights" workshop and community forum moderated by LeMoyne-Owen College professor Gee Joyner and Rhodes College professor Earle Fisher.
From there, the group will march to Civic Center Plaza downtown at 2 p.m. A public hip-hop "cypher" (a freestyle rap and hip-hop performance) will be held there from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. During that event, representatives from Memphis United will deliver letters demanding police reform to Memphis Police Department (MPD) Director Toney Armstrong, Mayor A C Wharton, Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich, and members of the Memphis City Council.
An after-party featuring performance by Lurrell Low, Red Planet, YR Generation, Girls Of Gravitron, and Knowledge Nick will be held at K’PreSha Boutique (323 S. Main).
The "People's Conference on Police Misconduct" was planned following an incident on South Main on October 25th, when the organizers of a post-Trolley Tour "cypher" in front of K’PreSha Boutique alleged that police officers responding to a noise complaint over-reacted and escalated the situation. One attendee, Jeffrey Lichtenstein, said his phone was confiscated after he filmed the police action.
A few days before that, on October 21st, Ashley Moore and Paul Garner, volunteers with Homeless Organizing for Power and Equality (H.O.P.E.), were arrested for “obstruction of a highway or sidewalk” when they attempted to record the police searching a man at the homeless hospitality center, Manna House.
After these incidents, Memphis United took on the cause of demanding police reform. The coalition was formed in March 2013 to organize the "People’s Conference on Race and Equality," a peaceful alternative to the KKK rally at Health Sciences Park.
Memphis United is demanding sensitivity and crisis intervention training for Memphis patrol officers, adherence to the MPD’s policy that allows civilians to record police actions, an end to harassment based on race, nationality, disability, economic status, and gender identity, and an the immediate testing of the the 12,000 back-logged rape kits.