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Brooks, COPS, and the blacklist

Brooks gets a reprieve, the feds say “j/k”, and the ACLU joins the City Hall suit.



Brooks sentence reversed

Former Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks won an appeal from the Tennessee Criminal Court of Appeals for falsifying an election document that misstated her home address. The appeal reverses Brooks' original sentence — two years probation and 80 hours community service.

In 2014, Brooks was popped by county officials for living outside of her district. After this controversy, Brooks left her post on the Shelby County Commission and, then, lost a bid for Juvenile Court Clerk. She pleaded guilty to the charge in 2015.

Central to the appeal was Brooks' claim that two events — remarks made to a Hispanic man concerning diversity in contracts at a commission meeting and a dismissed assault charge stemming from Brooks' allegedly throwing water on a woman — actually had no bearing on the crime. However, those events became a focal point during her original sentencing hearing.

  • Toby Sells

ACLU joins "blacklist" suit

The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee (ACLU-TN) joined a class action lawsuit against the city of Memphis over the creation of a list of citizens who require a police escort into City Hall.

The so-called "blacklist" includes former city employees as well as local political activists including Mary Stewart, the mother of Darrius Stewart, who was killed by Memphis police in 2015.

The lawsuit alleges that the creation of the "blacklist" violates a 1978 consent decree forbidding the city to use local intelligence to continuously spy on individuals who were exercising their protected First Amendment rights.

ACLU-TN's legal director, Thomas H. Castelli, said that many people on the list have no criminal record but have merely participated in protected free political speech, and this implies that the city is once again engaging in "political intelligence actions" against its residents.

Will they? Won't they?

The Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) announced last week that they would no longer be collaborating with the Memphis Police Department (MPD) in an extensive review of community policing and use of deadly force policies.

In their initial statement, the COPS office did not provide an explanation as to why the review was cancelled. Less than four hours later, a second statement came from the COPS office announcing that the collaborative review was back on.

According to the COPS office, the previous announcement occurred because the office had not received a signed memorandum of agreement from Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, a critical requirement of the reform process.

The city of Memphis' chief communications officer, Ursula Madden, said that their chief legal officer, Bruce McMullen, confirmed MPD's participation of the COPS assessment earlier this week with the acting U.S. Attorney for West Tennessee, Larry Laurenzi. It was agreed that Strickland would sign the agreement on Friday.

Madden said that they were "shocked" at the DOJ's press release on Friday morning, and that the mayor had indeed signed an agreement as promised.


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