Thursday, November 17, 2016

Police Oversight Board Validates Citizens Who Complained of Abuses

Citizen oversight of police in Memphis reached a milestone tonight as CLERB said citizens who were improperly arrested in highly visible cases were mistreated by police a second time when MPD internal affairs denied their
CLERB chairman Ralph White,
administrator Virginia Wilson, Paul Garner
complaints that police had abused them.

The Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board voted unanimously that Memphis Department of Police Services Inspectional Services Bureau --- aka police internal affairs – erred in rejecting the complaints of activist Paul Garner and Frayser resident Reginald Johnson.

Garner’s arrest and arrests days later at a Trolley Night hip-hop event led to a movement to bring back the Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board, which had been secretly disbanded by Mayor A.C. Wharton’s administration in 2011. 

Garner, an organizing coordinator at Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, and John Holle were arrested for filming police in front of Manna House homeless refuge Oct. 21, 2013, although officers charged Garner with disorderly conduct and “obstructing a passageway.”  Holle, a Manna House volunteer, had just opened up for the evening meal when officers showed up looking for a man.  Holle told officers they could not enter the property without a warrant, which did not prevent police from searching the place but which apparently angered the officers.  Police confiscated Holle’s and Garner’s phones and at one point told them it was illegal to record video in Memphis without a film permit. 

Garner and Holle spent about 17 hours in jail and in police custody before the media found out and charges were dropped. 

Helping the citizen oversight board make a decision was a video taken by Holle which showed a Memphis officer saying, “I understand you’re videoing, and it’s on video, so we’re going to take you to jail for obstructing highway passageway.”