Protesters push for changes in Memphis traffic stop policies
by: Jordan James
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — From the Memphis Police Department to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, the calls for reform are growing louder across the community following the death of Tyre Nichols.
Rosalyn Nichols is the president of Memphis Interfaith Coalition for Action and Hope. They organized Thursday’s rally hoping their collective voices will encourage Memphis City Council to vote in favor of passing six ordinances.
“We will not stop until we get justice for Tyre,” Nichols said.
Supporters believe the ordinances could increase accountability and transparency. Two of the ordinances involved traffic stops. One is calling for the elimination of routine traffic stops altogether and the second would require them to only happen in marked vehicles.
“We need them passed. We need them to know how crucial it is for us to change the narrative as well as the structure around policing in the city,” Nichols said.
Ahead of the final reading of the ordinance, MPD announced they reactivated their special traffic enforcement unit.
In a public statement, MPD said in part, “The Memphis Police Department believes this proactive approach to safety will further enhance the effort we are taking to protect our city.” Read the full statement here
However, not everyone agrees with the decision.
“We can’t continue forwarding something that’s been financially and generally unsuccessful ineffective. Pretextual traffic stops have been ineffective at identifying contraband and have disproportionately targeted people of color,” said Richard Massey who attended the protest.
Meanwhile, discussion surrounding police reform will continue as a city deals with the fallout of the death of Tyre Nichols.
The council meeting will be held next Tuesday.