(Memphis) An activist group is demanding Memphis Police lose its national accreditation.
The Memphis Black Autonomy Federation says the Memphis Police Department uses deadly and excessive force too often, blaming police for 13 deaths this past year.
The first was last February; Jeremie McCraven was shot in the back while trying to escape police in a stolen car. The most recent was less than 3 weeks ago when officers shot and killed Steven Askew, he was sleeping his car. Officers said they shot him because he threatened them with a gun.
“We think it’s a violent department judging from the fact that at least 13 people have died at the hands of police last year,” said JoNina Ervin with The Memphis Black Autonomy Federation.
In a city where a black man is mayor and police director, Ervin says that does not stop officers from targeting blacks.
“We have criminalization of black youth. Take a look at Steven Askew who fell asleep in his car. Because he was a young black man, the police assumed he was up to no good.
The group is also calling for a federal investigation of MPD for what they call corruption.
“I certainly welcome any agency to come in and look at what we’re doing. We have no secrets. I don’t have anything to hide,” said Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong.
Armstrong says despite the thoughts of the Memphis Black Autonomy Federation, He believes MPD will have its accreditation renewed.
“I don’t think you have citizens saying they aren’t happy with the department,” said Armstrong.
MPD undergoes the same accreditation review every three years.