Memphis Group Works to End “Police Harassment and Profiling”

(Memphis) Dozens of people are taking action of what they claim is mistreatment from Memphis Police.

Earlier this month, News Channel 3 told you about a surge of complaints that police arrested people for using cell phones to record officers.

A group called Homeless Organizing for Power and Equality held a workshop to let people know their rights on Saturday.

It was held at the Memphis Center of Independent Living. The room was full. Many say they were victims of police profiling and harassment.

“I have been harassed,” said one person who attended. “My rights were violated.”

Public defenders answered dozens of questions. The purpose was to let people share their experiences involving Memphis cops and find out what to do if officers don’t follow the rules.

The public defenders documented all of the complaints, so they can pinpoint the areas where these incidents were occurring. They also walked people through the process of filing a formal complaints.

“We have been hearing about these issues for a long time,” said Paul Garner.

Garner helped organize the event. Last month, he and his friend recorded officers questioning someone at the Manna House on Jefferson Street.

“I understand you’re videotaping, and it’s on video, so I’m going to take you for jail for obstructing highway passages,” said one of the officers in the video.

Garner said he and his friends were arrested. Police told them they needed a permit to film

Days later, people at a downtown hip-hop gathering claimed officers arrested people for recording them.

Garner said it put a spotlight on MPD, which is why officers at the Crump Precinct sat down with him and other community members to figure out a solution.

“One thing we were talking about to them is sensitivity training and starting it in that precinct,” said Garner.

Complaints were filed in the hip-hop gathering and Manna House cases.

The ACLU responded to both incidents saying “Director Toney Armstrong should pay some attention to what his officers were trying to hide,” and that “the department suffers from dysfunction much deeper than camera shyness.”

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