Some Memphis activists say police reform meetings with mayor lack representation


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Community and city leaders gathered for another closed-door meeting Wednesday to discuss police reform.

Some activists said they believe the meetings lack representation for the entire community.

The outcome of Wednesday’s meeting is still unknown, but one activist said he’s been down this road before with the city, and there are more productive ways to bring about change.

Community leaders like Devante Hill and Frank Gottie are expected to sit down with Mayor Jim Strickland throughout this month to discuss police reform policies.

In a facebook post Monday, Hill said he plans on addressing a number of topics surrounding police training and a “see something, say something policy.”

It’s still unclear who exactly took part in the meeting and what was discussed.

Keedran Franklin, founder of Memphis Coalition of Concerned Citizens, said having closed meetings with the mayor has always been a concern.

“Everything we laid on the table, the mayor had three answers for us, which was we’re already doing that, it’s already been done, or it’s not in my scope, which means he didn’t have the power to do it,” Franklin said.

Franklin said his organization and other community leaders met with the mayor in 2016 with similar requests.

He said some needs have been addressed, but he’s moved his focus from the mayor’s office to big businesses he believes impact the community.

“That’s who our organization has been focused on since 2016 once we realized he’s not the one,” Franklin said. “We still hold him accountable for some of the s*** he does, but he’s not the one we want to be sitting down at the table with.”

There’s been a lot of controversy about who’s allowed in these meetings. Some feel there is a lack of community representation.

A spokeswoman for the city sent out a statement saying, in part: “The mayor is meeting with the leaders of the largest peaceful protests over the last two weeks, and we are letting them pick who attends and setting the agenda.”

WREG spoke with Frank Gottie earlier Wednesday, and he didn’t want to go into any detail about the meeting.

He did say he wishes the meetings were more open.

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