Why the united front? WREG asks civil rights activists, clergy about standing with police director

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The wheels are already in motion for the NAACP, clergy, law enforcement and others in the community to work together to bring about criminal justice reform. This comes in the wake of the grand jury declining to indict MPD Officer Connor Schilling in the shooting death of 19-year-old Darrius Stewart.

"We will get together this coming Thursday to talk about what are the next steps. We are not satisfied with the verdict that came down from the grand jury concerning Darius Stewart. It's really just kind of indicative of the criminal justice system in Shelby County," Stacy Spencer of New Direction Church said.

Spencer is already a part of a coalition called United Against Violence 901.

He said Police Director Toney Armstrong has also agreed to help fight for reform and changes they can seek from state lawmakers.

WREG spoke over the phone on Wednesday with Rev. Keith Norman at NAACP about standing up at the podium with Armstrong.

He said protests are a very important tool when it comes to unjust policies, but he also said that under Armstrong, that has not been the case.

WREG political commentator Otis Sanford agreed.

"Toney Armstrong, since he's been the director, has done a really good job of cultivating relationships in the community, especially with civil rights groups, and it pays dividends," he said. He added that Armstrong has supported the public's right to lawfully protest.

Sanford, Spencer and Norman agreed Armstrong has properly investigated officers who have acted out.

They said his department is reflective of the community, which sets Memphis apart.

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