NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – After weeks of advocates voicing concern, one organization is demanding action from Metro Councilmembers to fight against the bill that abolished Nashville’s Community Oversight Board.
It’s a practice that has been in place since 1994; community oversight boards have been given the task to make sure police departments don’t go unchecked.
On Tuesday, May 16, inside the Metro Courthouse, exactly one hour before the Metro Council meeting, advocates demanded action.
“If Metro Council does nothing about the COB, if Metro legal does nothing about the COB, if Metro legal refuses to fight this in court, they are sending the message that the dignity of working people, everyday people, and Black people mean nothing to them,” said Sekou Franklin with Community Oversight Now.
Earlier this year, Tennessee state legislators introduced House and Senate bills that would abolish Community Oversight Boards. The move came just weeks after the killing of Tyre Nichols in Memphis.
At the time, only two cities in Tennessee have community oversight boards — Nashville and Memphis.
During Tuesday’s press conference, advocates claimed the bills “openly defies” how Davidson County residents voted when the creation of a COB was on the ballot in 2018.
“More people voted for the COB than the State Legislature, more people voted for the COB than Metro Councilmembers,” said Franklin. “135,00 votes matter or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, let us know and we got to go to the streets with it.”
The organization is hoping to capitalize on the fact that Gov. Bill Lee has yet to sign the bill into law. Although it passed in the Senate and in the House, the final signature from the governor is needed before it becomes law.