Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings held a joint press conference on Friday morning to express sympathy for those affected by Thursday night's ambush on members of the Dallas Police Department and those affected by this week's police shootings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and St. Paul, Minnesota. They also addressed a racist image that was allegedly sent over Snapchat by a Memphis Police officer.
On Dallas shootings and police shootings in Baton Rouge and Minnesota:
On any planned or future local protests:
"I continue to be shocked and saddened by the loss of life in our country during this entire week. I call on us as Americans to reject this violence, all of it. Let us come together in Memphis and beyond and have a peaceful and thoughtful dialogue on the issues that confront us, a dialogue where ideas trump anger and compassion is paramount."
"I'm angry, frustrated, and disappointed that we continue to go down this path. We cannot survive if we do not work together. We are not your enemy. We are your ally. The Memphis Police Department has more than 2,000 officers out there serving and protecting the citizens of this great city. The horrific incidents that have occurred over the past few days are unacceptable. The shootings in Baton Rouge, Minnesota, and Dallas, Texas, cannot be our new norm. We — citizens, law enforcement personnel, and the citizens of Memphis, Tennessee — are better than that. We must grow strong and support each other. We cannot stand idle anymore. Now more than ever, we need to open our eyes and accept that we as a community must work together.
We must remain patient and let the justice system do its job. At the end of the investigation, we'll have a clear picture of what has occurred in these incidents. We must not let what has happened skew our way of thinking. We must stay focused in Memphis. We must continue to work together to build relationships.
I ask that the citizens of Memphis not let the actions of officers in other cities reflect on their opinion of the hard-working men and women who serve as officers in their community. I ask that our officers continue to do their jobs and not let the actions of a few individuals hinder our goals of being servants and protecting our city."
On the potential for a copycat incident:
"I realize that many of our citizens may be planning to participate in protests, rallies, or candlelight vigils. I ask that, in light of last night's events in Dallas, you proceed with caution. I'm not going to ask you to not exercise your rights. However, I do expect that these events remain peaceful and all laws are obeyed."
"We will continue to work with local and national law enforcement partners to make sure Shelby County citizens stay safe. We don't want these type of incidents to happen. We want to make sure our community stays calm and stays safe. I'm always concerned about violence or a copycat incident, so that's why we try to take a proactive stance. We're reaching out to our community activists, our clergy leaders to relay the message that we want peace in Memphis."
An image of a white hand pointing a gun at an emoji of an African American man was allegedly sent over Snapchat by a Memphis Police officer. Rallings said fellow officers reported the Snapchat to him, and two officers have been relieved of duty pending an investigation.
"The image is disgusting and will not be tolerated. We will conduct a thorough investigation and the individual responsible will be held accountable," Rallings said.