Memphis police cut security list in half same day second lawsuit filed against city

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Memphis police have cut the controversial list of people who need to be escorted by security at City Hall in half.

The announcement came the same day a second lawsuit was filed over the list.

Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings announced Wednesday that 43 names were removed from the list of 83 or so people.

They were all protesters added after a demonstration at Mayor Jim Strickland's home in December.

Although many of those people did not participate in that protest, they were still added to the City Hall list preemptively.

That list led to one federal lawsuit last week, but WREG learned all the people in that lawsuit have been removed from the list.

We also learned other people, fast food workers who have protested to get the minimum wage increased, are also suing the city.

Ashley Cathey’s been part of the "Fight for 15" after working in the fast-food industry for nearly a decade.

“I have a family to support, my younger siblings and also myself," she said.

She said she works two jobs and has protested with others, saying minimum wage isn’t enough.

“Every time we do a protest, it’s a problem with the police and I feel like that’s not right if there job is to protect and serve and we’ve always been peaceful.”

A new lawsuit filed against the city claims police officers have followed protest organizers home in unmarked cars and threatened to arrest them.

It says the problems begin in September 2014 when protesters were arrested for going into the middle of the road and blocking traffic.

“I don’t think that statement has merit," said Director Rallings. "We have respected the right for groups to protest and I think we’ve done a very good job of maintaining the peace.”

The lawsuit also says the city violates protesters’ rights by putting them on the security list to be escorted at city hall.

“The book provides names of individuals who could be a security concern," said Director Rallings. "Some of those are persons are disgruntled ex-employees or persons who have made threatening statements.”

He said the book, that’s been in place since 2010, is now under review.

“We’re going to look at everything from A to Z, how the book is put together, how individuals entered or how they come off out of the book," he said.

However, the Mid-South Organizing Committee who organizes the Fight for 15 in our region said that’s not enough.

They want the federal lawsuit filed to bring changes for their protests and human rights.

“We have to stand together and we have to speak against this," said Cathey.

Memphis’ city attorney said they haven’t been officially served with this recent lawsuit, but said they’re filing their official response Wednesday to the first lawsuit filed last week that claims the security list violates people’s constitutional rights.