Warning: Some video may be disturbing.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Nashville Black Assembly is issuing a call to action for reformed policing following the deadly Memphis traffic stop involving Tyre Nichols.
“It’s nothing new. I mean it still hurts, you know, I’m tired of being traumatized every time we turn on the TV, but that’s why we’re fighting now, that’s why we’re here,” local poet Simba Woodard said. “It’s like, other folks who might not share our experiences, they’re like, ‘Oh my goodness, this exists?’ And it’s like, ‘Yeah, because it’s on camera now, right? It’s history.’”
On Saturday, Feb. 4, a vigil was held in downtown Nashville, aiming to gain signatures for a petition with demands for local police.
“These are demands that both come from our friends and organizers on the ground in Memphis and that we looked at our political agenda and that aligned with directly with the policies that we have in our political agenda,” said Erica Perry, an organizer with the Black Nashville Assembly.
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Some of those demands include adding data transparency, sharing more information about specialized policing units, ending undercover policing in plain clothes and unmarked cars, and removing police from traffic stops.
“Divesting away from those things that are continuously harming us and investing in things that create community safety like housing, education, after school programs, and just community care,” explained Jamel Campbell-Gooch, community organizer with the Black Nashville Assembly. “We know that that will actually provide the change that we actually need, and on top of that, actually make our community safer.”
Although bodycam footage showing Nichols’ deadly stop in Memphis didn’t come as a surprise for many at the rally, it’s something they still hope to change.
“Before it was on TV, folks didn’t have to be faced with it, but now you can’t go on Facebook, Instagram, whatever, without seeing the unfortunate truth, the unfortunate experiences we live…but it’s been happening and it’s going to keep happening until folks like us, folks who are experiencing this every day, are using our voices to stand against it,” Woodard said.
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The Black Nashville Assembly plans to present their demands at the State of Black Nashville Town Hall on Feb. 25.
Meanwhile, it’s important to note that the last Nashville budget did add money for extra mental health resources for the Metro Nashville Police Department, as well as more officers.