Some protest leaders meet with Mayor Strickland; others say they were excluded

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — When cars slowed traffic on the I-40 bridge Monday night, Shelby County Young Democrats Vice President Amber Sherman was one of the organizers.

“It’s to affect commerce because we know as a city we aren’t listened to unless the economy is affected. And so we really want to get the mayor’s attention,” she said.

Those and other protests have gotten the Mayor Jim Strickland’s attention. He put out a video statement Monday saying he understood protesters’ frustration, and then his staff told WREG he planned to meet with protest leaders Wednesday afternoon.

Devante Hill told WREG he was one of the leaders invited to the meeting. He’s also been a speaker at most of the marches.

He did not comment prior to the meeting on what he hoped to get out of it. He also did not go into details when asked about the goals of the protests.

“We have concrete goals. We just want to discuss them with city leaders first,” he said.

Pastor Keith Norman also confirmed he would attend Wednesday’s meeting, which remain closed to the public. He did not comment on what he hoped would happen at the meeting.

Sherman said she and the people she organizes with, including Pastor Earle Fisher, were not invited to the mayor’s meeting.

“[Strickland] has actually spent much of his time in office explicitly trying not to meet with activists and tokenizing pastors,” Fisher said via text message.

“To have the best input about demands and goals, you should address them with the people,” Sherman said.

She hopes to achieve better practices and training for city police, she said.

“Officers are trained more to use the least amount of force possible versus weapons training, which is 50 hours versus the 10 hours they receive,” she said.

She also said she wanted “mandatory reporting for officers after they get a certain number of complaints.”

She said she asked multiple times since 2016 to meet with the mayor about these issues but never heard back.

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