MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis City Council on Tuesday approved a resolution to investigate any city employees who may have been involved in the violence in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6.
Sponsored by City Council member Michalyn Easter-Thomas, the resolution is not aimed at those who were there to make their voices heard, but at those who may have been involved in the violence.
Councilman Chase Carlisle said the council supports free speech, but the rioting that happened inside the Capitol “meets the threshold for terrorism.”
The majority of the council was in favor of the investigation, with one member questioning the resolution’s limited focus and how that could impact investigations into other disturbances like at the courthouse in Nashville last year.
“Why not also all riots? Why just the U.S Capitol riot,” asked council member Worth Morgan.
“This was an attack on the democratic house of our people as opposed to a riot that could happen other places,” answered City Council member Dr. Jeff Warren.
Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings said, based on what the department had heard from the FBI as recently as Tuesday morning, there was no indication that any Memphis police officer participated in the events at the Capitol. The original language of the resolution only mentioned police officers, but was amended to include other city employees.
Rallings and the city’s attorney also had concerns about the legal implications of such a request.
“I have some concerns about a request to make a general blanket investigation into all employees to determine if they were participating in a criminal action when at this point we have no basis,” said Chief Legal Officer Jennifer Sink.
Those concerns led the council to amend the resolution. It now calls for an investigation based on evidence provided to law enforcement.
In the end, all council members except Morgan voted in favor of the resolution.