Wednesday, September 28, 2022
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In 2020, Memphis City Council Backed Defund Police Group



Two years ago, members of the Memphis City Council advocated for Campaign Zero, a group that, at the time, stated they wanted to abolish and/or defund the police.

This week and in recent weeks, Memphis has had more than a few high-profile killings. A United Methodist Church leader was carjacked and murdered. A community activist was killed, as was jogger Eliza Fletcher. And this week a man in Memphis allegedly livestreamed himself killing four people and wounding three others. 

In 2020, Memphis City Council member Patrice Robinson, who still serves on that body, said in an emailed newsletter to her constituents that the criminal justice system was racist.

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“To ensure the City of Memphis is moving toward progress in resolving these issues, the Council also passed a resolution in Executive Session requesting that the Memphis Police Department and Shelby County Sheriff’s Office adopt each of the ‘8 Can’t Wait’ principles,” Robinson wrote. 

“These strategies were devised by anti-police brutality group Campaign Zero to reduce and prevent violent encounters between law enforcement officers and members of the general public.”

According to the #8CANTWAIT website, members of the group want, among other things, for law enforcement to ban chokeholds and require a warning and exhaust all alternatives before shooting. They also want police to ban shooting at moving vehicles.

“While we stand by the idea that any political leaders truly invested in protecting black lives should adopt the #8CANTWAIT policies, we also believe the end goal for all of us should be absolute liberation from policing, and encourage visitors to the site to support the range of organizers who are making progress in employing other strategies towards abolition: defunding the police and reinvesting in community,” the #8CANTWAIT website stated at the time.

“If you are from a place where #8CANTWAIT is being considered, demand steps towards defunding and abolition. If you are a legislator who has adopted these policies or are considering it, please know that it will take many strategies to move beyond policing and use this time to learn more and listen to the needs of your community.”

At least that’s what the website said in 2020.

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RVIVR reviewed the #8CANTWAIT website on Thursday and could not find any language calling to defund or abolish the police. We emailed #8CANTWAIT and Campaign Zero and asked if they still favored abolishing and/or defunding the police. We also asked both groups they had simply changed their minds. They did not respond to our inquiry.

RVIVR also contacted the 13 Memphis City Council members and asked if they supported defunding or abolishing the police, especially given the recent and rampant violence in their city. Attempts to contact those city council members were unsuccessful. 

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