Climate Shift, A Year Later No Justice


This past week has been a roller coaster for the city of Memphis and our entire country.  Many people are now trying to capitalize off the 3 little words, Black Lives Matter. It is important that the city understands that this milestone was not reached in just one week.

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On Friday, July 15, 2016, Pastor Steven Bradley hosted a tree planting ceremony at New Direction Church where Darius Stewart was murdered. The tree was a symbol of life that was stolen from an innocent unarmed black teen.

Pastor Steven Bradley

This marks the one-year anniversary of the murder of Darius Stewart by former police officer Connor Schilling. BLMM has been planning for months a special commemoration of the injustice that left open wounds throughout the city of the unarmed teen murdered on the New Direction church’s grass. The officer was permitted to retire on claims of PTSD. The entire city could claim the same diagnosis after this week’s events.

Allyson Truly

Many people have assumed credit for this past week BLM events.  Everyone who is a member of BLMM is a leader and each person has special gifts which makes our movement different from others.  On Wednesday, July 6, 2016, organizer Allyson Truly held a BLM rally at King’s grocery store on Evergreen and Jackson Avenue, one day after the murder of Alton Sterling. Sterling was tackled by 2 white police officers Baton Rouge, LA. He was shot multiple times and killed while selling CDs with the owner’s permission outside a convenience store.

National Civil Rights Vigil

The video of the killing galvanized diverse people all over the country. At the precise moment, while candles were being lit at the corner store in Memphis, a live Facebook feed showed Philando Castile bleeding profusely from a gunshot wound fired by a Falcon Heights, Minnesota police officer. His fiancee’ Lavish “Diamond” Reynolds, and their 4-year-old daughter witnessed the entire incident. Vigil participants could not believe their eyes and quickly ended the peaceful rally, and the crowd disbursed.

Rally at King’s Grocery

Black Live Matter organizers from all over the country began to protest. The next night after a peaceful BLM protest in Dallas, TX, 5 white police officers were assassinated. Our nation was shocked and devastated by the continual senseless loss of life.

P. Moses founder of Black Lives Matter Memphis organized and a Peace & Healing Candlelight vigil at the National Civil Rights Museum. Desirae Spann sang soothing rendition through a megaphone of Marvin Gaye’s “Brother Brother” and “Amazing Grace.”



Activist Frank Gottie passed around candles while P. Moses gave a brief history lesson of the golden era of the Civil Rights movement which included Jew, whites, pastors, and persons from all different walks of life. She then introduced Attorney Josie Holland who asked everyone to “Get Lit”.   Everyone was inspired and that very moment. During this vigil, Holland and Moses extended heartfelt condolences to the families of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and all the officers who lost their lives from gun violence.

Attorney Josie Holland & P. Moses

This vigil allowed all races to participate and express how they felt about the violence and proposed solutions for change. It concluded peacefully with a dialogue including many diverse citizenry.  The tone at the sacred ground where Dr. King’s dream had been murdered was now reincarnated and the city awoke.


Following the gathering, the BLM Coordinating Committee held a rally at the St. Andrew Church in South Memphis.

South Memphis Protest


On Sunday, July 10, 2016, Frank Gottie and other organizers began a march from the National Civil Rights Museum and picked up others at the FedExforum, and they occupied in protest the Hernando Desoto Bridge. This protest included whites, Latinos, gays, children, all ages, preachers, and a host of media. This historical event was organized on social media by various BLM students, activists, and BLMM organizers. Members of rival gangs were in attendance in unity. Not one person was hurt or arrested.

Interim Police Chief

Interim Police Chief Mike Rallings plead for a peaceful disbursement and promise BLM organizers a meeting with the mayor the next day to discuss the issues demands.  After the negotiations were complete, Rallings came down the bridge and walked arm to arm with participants. This demonstration lasted over 5 hours. The feelings on the bridge promoted empowerment to a voice for the voiceless and hope for the hopeless.

The Panel

The following day a meeting was set up at the Greater Imani Church. No official BLM members were included in the design and structure of the meeting. During the meeting, a panel was set up and with the Mayor moderated by Pastor Bill Adkins. Mrs. Kia Granberry-Moore, a panelist, became very defensive when a citizen asked, “Who are you?” seeking clarification who she was representing. Moore responded by a list of her credentials in an adversarial tone. The topic was changed, irrelevant questions were asked from the audience, and the meeting evolved into chaos and a “Rallings for director” crusade.  It was later discovered that Moore recently moved back to Memphis from Atlanta and had no direct involvement with BLM organization.

Organizer/Activist Keedran “TNT” Franklin walked out of the meeting when it became obvious that the people who had been on the bridge with him were not going to be heard. The community meeting became disruptive because no one was listening to their concerns.  Public officials who were seated behind panel began to leave. The consensus was the meeting not well organized. The meeting was not organized by any persons directly connected to the people or official BLM organization.

The next day Black Lives Matter Memphis took to the Whitehaven streets and
protested at Graceland. The protest was a grim reminder to the Mayor and the police not to break promises.

Antonio Cathey & protestors

At this protest, 5 organizers were detained, but that did not kill the spirit or the momentum of the Black Lives Matter Memphis organization. The false arrest of the organizers motivated more people to protest. A Blue Crush truck parked across the street for intimidation purposes. The truck did not have any visible effect protestors or the children. They continued to chant while taking breaks to drink ice-cold water. The water was compliments of the Coalition for Citizens for Change.

Frank Gottie offered water to one of the white officers directing traffic who was sweating profusely, but he declined. Onlookers honked their horns in support and yelled “Black Lives Matter.” The Memphis Police became so frustrated in the 90 plus heat that they manually turned the stop light off and began threatening to arrest other protesters who had more than 25 standing in a group. Organizers quickly split up into groups of 20 and walked across the street hand to hand chanting “No Justice No Peace, No Racist Police.” Whose Streets Our Streets, Whose City Our City.”

Dana Asbury

The successful peaceful protest ended at the Piccadilly parking lot where participants gathered around a tree to uplifted each other and discussed the continual work. A closing prayer was offered, and they peacefully dispersed.

Young participants who had become enraged then went to a local grocery store to protest racially charged comments on social media made by a white co-owner of Gary’s Market on Getwell. He said that the protestors on the “Hernando Desoto Bridge look like a bunch of monkeys.” This was not organized by any official BLM organizers, but it also ended peacefully.

Mary Stewart

July 17, 2016, the mother of Darius Stewart, Ms. Mary Stewart, and her family held a memorial service at Abyssinia Church, which brought a host of media and spectators. Just as we thought that the violence was, dissipating 3 officers were killed in Baton Rouge, LA.

The events that transpired over this week have given our youth and city hope.  We can be heard if we are unified and singularly focused. Our voices have been heard and if our recommendations are heeded our city will heal. Black Lives Matter is not just a catchphrase to secure a position in society it is a movement that can’t be stopped. Black Lives Matter Memphis. #BLM #BLMM #blacklivesmatter.

Frank Gottie






The country has been cultivated for a crusade for change by the recent murders.  The videos have left us all desensitized.  The consensus is enough is enough.  One person was so irate they chose to shoot in a crowd and kill police.  A person should be able to watch these videos and be outraged and concur that enough is enough, but they should also understand the importance of Black Lives Matter and know that we do not condone violence we are a non-violent organization. Memphis made history tonight. Tonight our movement was taken to the next level understand how we got here in the last week.

“It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We must love each other and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
Assata Shakur,

RIP Alton Sterling- Baton Rouge, Lousiana



RIP Philando Castile Falcon Heights, Minnesota


RIP Antwun “Ronnie” Shumpert Tupelo, MS





Process of Elimination

To whom much is given much is expected. The greatest responsibility one can have is to lead.  A good leader leads by example and with the constant skepticism, distrust, and the departure of hundreds of Memphis Police officers the next director appointed will face an uphill battle turning the department around.  Was this a selection process or a process of elimination?

Memphis police officer Joshua Barnes, 28, has been charged with aggravated stalking and violating a protection order.


Recently, MPD officers have been attacked, kidnapped, and murdered.  The relationship with the community must be repaired for any policing to be effective. With the constant distrust, Black Lives Matter leaders and activist seek solutions and demand that all officers be held accountable for their actions. This past week former Memphis Police officer Joshua Barnes was arrested for the 5th time for aggravated stalking and violating his probation. If Barnes were a black police officer would he have been continually allowed to make bail? The standard of accountability for the Memphis Police officers should be the same regardless of race.

The city’s communication director Ursula Madden, said: “The Memphis Police Director position does not fall under the same civil service guidelines because it’s an appointed position.” The city is looking to pay out close to $200,000.00 for this position. She provided information on the agency who assisted in the selection process. We can only hope that the screening process would be transparent and impartial.

The selection process of the future Memphis Police Director will be conducted by an outside agency, the International Association of Police Chiefs {IACP} of Alexandria Virginia.  BLMM learned that the keyword was the “association.”  Just as one can be guilty by association one can be appointed by association.  Last week the IACP refused to answer BLMM questions about the application and selection process.  Ironically, the Commercial Appeal {CA} was also snubbed when they asked similar questions about the candidates. The CA filed a lawsuit in Chancery Court requiring IACP to release what should be public information.

With so much distrust in the Memphis Police Department, Mayor Jim Strickland’s next appointment is crucial.  The majority of arrestees are endangered black males.  His selection should be someone who can identify better policing practices, who is familiar with up to date technology for combating crime and crime prevention.  He or she should require a better understanding of the community they are serving.  Mayor Strickland’s appointment will be announced any day now and citizens should know if the process for this decision was made correctly because 40,000.00 tax dollars was spent to on it.  Will IACP involvement yield right the impact for Memphis?


Black Lives Matter had an opportunity to speak with Mike Williams, the president of the Memphis Police Association.  Its mission is to promote integrity, professionalism and fair and equal treatment of its members.  As a native Memphian, Williams grew up in North Memphis.  He concurred that the next director should be able to understand the community as well as the officers.  Mr. Williams was aware of what the IACP is but was not a member.  He was aware of the fees associated with being a member and did see the news announcements that the position was available. Williams said, “The ability to lead is hard and that officers interested in this position should have taken initiative to apply.” He agreed that the decision to bring in a director who does not understand his or her officers could have a negative backlash.  There are qualified ranking officers within MPD who could perform the duties and Williams does not think the city would benefit from a selection outside the city.  Furthermore, he said, “The Director should understand that we need more connection to the community and more investment in our youth,” similar to the kind that existed when he grew up, “for young people to aspire and dream to be someone.”  Williams said the “First greatest aspect an officer can have is empathy for those they encounter, the director chosen needs experience because Memphis is the 23 largest city.”

Bennie Cobb former Shelby County Sheriff Officer has over 30 years of law enforcement training and expertise.  He was aware of the position and is a member of the IACP.  He received three separate emails about the position from, the City of Memphis, and NOBEL {National Organization Black Law Enforcement Executives}.  His association permitted him an opportunity to be considered.  He was in the loop of organizations which made sure he was aware of the position. Cobb opted not to apply for the position, but he did agree that the person should be someone with ties and a keen understanding of the community and its demographics. He agreed that there should be an internal process for selection consideration within the Memphis Police department but there is not one.  Some high ranking officers did not even know how to apply for the director position.  Is this a fair process?  We will soon find out when the Mayor makes his decision.  The real answer to this question will be dignified by a drop in crime the murder rate.  Or maybe this issue will be solved when the community once again understands the importance of civil servants and when we all feel safe and protected because we are being served by officers who know us, and aren’t just trying to meet quotas and follow militarized directives. We need a director whose leadership is reflective of someone who shares the goals of making Memphis magnificent by improvement in law enforcement practices and community policing.  This will happen with the right process of elimination. 










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