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Smart Meters, Bath Salts, and the KKK

News highlights of 2013.

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January
— On January 17th, Memphis police officers Ned Aufdenkamp and Matthew Dyess, after responding to a noise complaint at an apartment building, notice a man sleeping in his car. When they approach the car and wake the man, they say the man (24-year-old Steven Askew) points a gun at them. The cops fire their weapons into the parked car, killing Askew. Askew's family accuses the officers of using excessive force. Aufdenkamp and Dyess are relieved of duty during the investigation but are later reinstated.

February
— The Hi-Tone Café closes its Poplar Avenue rock club after 15 years in business. The club relocates to Crosstown and reopens in August.

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March
— About 60 members of the Ku Klux Klan hold a protest outside the Shelby County Courthouse in response to the renaming of public parks with Confederate-themed names. More than 400 law enforcement officers show up to make sure the protest and counter-protest don't get out of hand.

Commercial Appeal editor Chris Peck announces his retirement from the newspaper. CA veteran and former managing editor Louis Graham is named as Peck's successor.

April
— Civil rights icon Maxine Smith passes away at age 83.

— Elvis impersonator Paul Kevin Curtis is arrested for allegedly sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama. But it later turns out that Curtis has been framed by James Everett Dutschke, a former martial-arts instructor and long-time rival of Curtis'.

May
— Memphis Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins is let go by the team's management after the Grizzlies led their most successful season in team history.

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— Beale Street's Club 152 is shut down on May 15th as a public nuisance for alleged drug sales and other criminal activity. The club was allowed to reopen on May 24th and a woman is stabbed in the thigh at the club two nights later.

June
— Fourteen Memphis smoke shops, including Whatever, Wizard's, and the Highland Smoke Shop, are shut down as public nuisances after an investigation reveals they were selling illegal synthetic drugs, such as "spice" or "bath salts." Most have since reopened.

July
— DNA test results reveal that aspiring Texas model Victoria Brink is not related to Representative Steve Cohen, as he had previously thought. Earlier in the year, during Obama's State of the Union, Cohen's "I love you" tweets to Brink made headlines when some assumed Brink was his lover rather than his assumed daughter.

August
— The Memphis City Council gives Memphis Light, Gas & Water the green light to purchase 60,000 smart meters for $10.1 million. In the months leading up to approval, some citizens voice concerns about smart meters as fire and health hazards. Some even said MLGW would use the meters to spy on people.

— A British newspaper reports that Kanye West is interested in buying Graceland for Kim Kardashian.

September
— On September 9th, Russell George, the owner of Earnestine & Hazel's, is found dead in the bar. He died as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

— Memphis Heritage launches a campaign to save the Nineteenth Century Club on Union Avenue from demolition after its new owners, who won the property at auction, unveil plans to tear down the historic home. The property is currently tied up in court in the appeals process.

October
— On October 24th, Amos Patton fires shots at the Tennessee Army National Guard Recruiting Center in Millington, striking three National Guard personnel, after he was told he was being relieved of duty and recommended for a reduction in rank. Those shot were not seriously injured. If convicted, Patton could receive up to 20 years in prison for each charge of unlawfully attempting to kill and up to 20 years for each assault charge.

— A nurse and a respiratory therapist from Le Bonheur Children's Hospital and a Hospital Wing pilot were killed in a helicopter crash in Bolivar while en route to pick up a patient.

November
— Memphis voters reject a half-cent sales tax increase that would have supported a citywide pre-kindergarten program and allowed for a reduction in the city's property tax rate.

December
— The Memphis City Council vote to provide $15 million in public funds to the redevelopment of the long-abandoned Sears Crosstown building into a "vertical urban village" of health-care, education, and arts offices, plus retail and apartments. Construction is expected to begin in the spring.

— U.S. senator Lamar Alexander's chief of staff, Ryan Loskarn, is arrested after an investigation reveals he had made several purchases from a movie production company that made child pornography films.

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