DHS (the Federal Department of Homeland Security) lists 53 state and territory fusion centers. Tennessee Fusion Center is at 901 R.S. Gass Boulevard Nashville, TN 37243 and it has four branches, including one in Memphis.
One of the initial purposes of the Fusion Centers was to roll out computer systems, based on NCIS (National Crime Information System) in order to allow information sharing between local LE units. This role seems to have morphed into a real-time help desk operation sharing information of sometimes dubious provenance.
US Senate Rejects Fusion Centers
Many concerns have been raised, from the points of view of both efficacy and civil rights violations. The United States Senate Homeland Security Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations report said “Despite reviewing 13 months’ worth of reporting originating from fusion centers from April 1, 2009 to April 30, 2010, the Subcommittee investigation could identify no reporting which uncovered a terrorist threat, nor could it identify a contribution such fusion center reporting made to disrupt an active terrorist plot”. This translates, roughly, to “Fusion Centers don’t work”.
ACLU “Surveillance Society” from Fusion Centers
A 2007 ACLU report raised concerns with four areas of fusion center aspects, and said that that the fusion centers were creating a “total surveillance society” in the US. They suffered from “ambiguous lines of authority”, meaning that the fusion process “allows the authorities to manipulate differences in federal, state and local laws to maximize information collection while evading accountability and oversight through the practice of ‘policy shopping’.” The ACLU was also concerned with the private sector and military participation in the surveillance of US citizens through these fusion centers. Finally, the ACLU report argued that fusion centers were likely to engage in poorly contained data mining because the “Federal fusion center guidelines encourage wholesale data collection and manipulation processes that threaten privacy” and that the centers were “hobbled by excessive secrecy”.
This report lists various notifications made to MPD and other LE relating to events around the July 2016 commemoration of the killing of Darrius Stewart a year earlier.
On 16th July, 2016, Nashville Fusion Center analyst Lizbeth Hale circulated a memo entitled “ Potential for increased violence towards Tennessee Law Enforcement in response to recent events”. The threats were “non specific in nature”. Referring to the numerous protests planned, “There exists potential for domestic extremists, homegrown violent extremists and criminals to incite or carry out attacks / acts of violence using the legitimate, legal protests as cover”.
The report listed a car load of armed white supremacists traveling to Memphis to protest at Nathan Bedford (now Health Sciences) park. They did not appear. They also listed several reports of local Vice Lord and Gangsta Disciples tasked to shoot law enforcement, which also didn’t happen. These threats were anonymous, unsourced and ultimately unreliable.
On the strength of these rumors, there was a flurry of emails back and forth, involving Stephanie Juneau of the Memphis fusion center at 225 N. Humphreys Blvd, Suite 3000. There is a cluster of Federal and State law enforcement offices near that address. These emails describe gatherings on Winchester and at Health Sciences Park where protests were uneventful and almost rained out. Other gatherings at shopping locations, the National Civil Rights Museum, various churches and the Commercial Appeal offices featured real time email updates from police who were surveilling protest participants. These events also involved protests at Graceland and the I-40 bridge.
Many of the individuals at these protests later turned up on the A-list. There is clear evidence that Facebook feeds were involved, with quotations from Frank Gotti’s facebook page, and it was also noted that when participants were asked not to publish times and places of events, the presumed Geofeedia information was not available to help MPD. But we also believe that photographs were made, from unmarked vehicles, and it is possible that the MPD Stingray cell-eavesdropping technology might have been deployed. We count at least a dozen A-list members, including Mary and Terry Stewart, the mother and aunt of the slain Darrius Stewart, whose MPD file probably started around this time.
We conclude that, last July, the Tennessee Fusion Center relied on inaccurate, unverified and ultimately false reports of possible criminal players who might or might not have had an interest in using the protests as cover for unlawful events. These bogus reports were used to justify unlawful collection of political intelligence and the creation of MPD files on political activists. We saw these files surface in the extract we call the A-list.
MPD Confidential Sources reveal ‘threat’ policy
Confidential sources with direct knowledge of MPD operations confirm that whenever a threat exists, files can be opened on individuals based on the threat. The threat does not have to be from a known or credible source, and, even when the threat is proven to be false, the MPD files remain. Political intelligence on anyone remotely connected with the time and place of the threat can be collected and filed, and there is no mechanism to automatically remove these files if the threat is later proven false.
Corroboration: Diamond Pipeline “Con”Fusion
Further support for the theory that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) / fusion centers play a role in providing pretexts for political surveillance is in this Washington Examiner piece. A report produced by DHS, and the state fusion centers of Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee, cited vague threats. Without any specific threat, they mention the peaceful protests mounted against the Diamond Pipeline. “While most opposition activity related to pipeline construction remains nonviolent and lawful protest activity, some violent extremists may take advantage of lawful gatherings to attempt to threaten, incite, or commit violent acts against public safety officers or facility staff.” They say that extreme loner offenders might attach themselves to legitimate protest groups. They cited “Ecoterrorism” in generally and no specific person, group or threat. This is actually a broad surveillance threat to most activists in Memphis, as the Diamond protestors are closely allied to many umbrella groups, including CCC.
If previous experience with the Tennessee fusion center holds true, we expect that this report will be used to justify political intelligence gathering against the Diamond / Valero protesters, which will pull in associations with a large swath of local activists, with whom the Diamond activists are highly integrated.
In Conclusion, the Fusion Center concept, even though it was determined by the Senate to be useless against the terrorist threats for which it was created, staggers forward years after its failure. The Tennessee Fusion Center creates false reports of gangster and domestic terrorist activity and promulgates these into local LE criminal databases, including those of MPD. These spurious reports are then leveraged to provide excuses for MPD to participate in prohibited collection of political intelligence gathering.
MPD Pol Intel, 66 years and still with us
MPD never needed such an excuse. The 1978 ACLU consent decree documents one undercover MPD agent who infiltrated the Civil Rights movement starting in 1951. When ACLU challenged MPD on its failure to implement the consent decree in 2010, Larry Godwin, the MPD director, instituted rule DR 138, more than twenty two years too late. As the Tennessee Fusion Center was in operation by that time, it seems that MPD rolled right over to using the spurious anti-terrorism pretext of the Fusion Centers to continue its illegal political intel gathering unabated.
MPD has been, for over 66 years, the most serious threat to civil liberties in Memphis. The Tennessee Fusion Centers, and the other nationwide Fusion Centers, may well be the worst threat to civil liberties in the nation.
MPD is under a 1978 consent decree, which forbids it from collecting intelligence for political purposes. It is also constrained from so doing by its own DR 138 departmental rule.
Nonetheless, MPD owns a surveillance van, disguised as a traffic division vehicle. It was first noted during the January 20th Immigration March. It has only been seen at political events and its dome camera usually aimed at the protesters. We can imagine no purpose for this vehicle other than to collect photographic and electronic intel on political protesters. It’s markings as a police traffic van would make it useless for undercover criminal investigations.
The bogus traffic van next turned up for the Mayday “Day Without Immigrants” march, at 7:50 PM May 1st 2017. Here it is parked near Clayborne Temple.
It’s a Ford E-350 cutaway van with a highly modified box body. The van has a camera dome at the rear, with a steerable camera inside.
We danced around it for a while and it followed us around. We discovered that it could not see you if you were right under it. It only turns downward so far.
Two crew members got out and fiddled with the camera mount. They said that they were police and with the ‘Real Time Crime’ unit. This group is in the Special Operations Division, and is part of the Blue Crush information center, the one with all the monitors and the Blue Crush data feeds. Not traffic enforcement.
The van has these fish-eye view ports on all sides. It has a full set of dome lights and sirens. The antenna in the picture on the right resembles a Stingray antenna. The City has several contracts with Harris Corp, the makers of Stingray, here, here, here and here. Stingray is an eavesdropping device which emulates a cell tower and intercepts cell phone traffic.
This monitoring of cellphone traffic is a broad search, as all cellphones in the area automatically connect to the bogus cell tower in the Stingray unit. ACLU considers this to be unconstitutional, and Harris Corp, the makers, require all customers to remain silent about ownership and usage of the devices, which we take to be a sign of guilt.
This curious device on the roof of the van appears to be a wave guide. It looks to be of a size appropriate for microwaves. We have not been able to identify what this elaborate antenna is for and would welcome any information. The antenna to the right looks Stingray compatible. The focus was on the wave guide.
The van is fitted with plumbing.
The crew jumped back in the van when I took pictures of them. One of them raised this crate to prevent me taking photos of the equipment in the interior of the van. They stayed in the van and followed me around with the dome camera until everyone got bored with that game.
At about 8:20 PM, the crew darted out of the back of the van into the cab and drove to the end point of the march, at the National Civil Rights Museum. When they got there, they trained the camera on the crowd in front of the museum.
The drone was not flown that day. A drone seen near the Civil Rights Museum was identified as that of a supporter.
We have one additional clue to the provenance of this vehicle. Although it was first noted on the streets of Memphis in 2017, it seems older than that, from the general aging of the fittings.
This decal is on the left front of the cab. The map of Tennessee has a faded yellow spike above Dyersburg and another extension around New Albany. The letter “Y” has a washed out “A” to the left and a “T” below. We don’t know what this means but would welcome any ideas.
This vehicle is designed and used specifically for political intelligence collection and has no other use.
This is the first of a series on how MPD members game the system, as part of a pervasive pattern of corruption in the force. Some of these behaviors are sophisticated and interact in subtle ways, so we will look at a single regulation at a time.
The first topic in this series is MPD DR 501, from Chapter 1 Section 3 of the MPD Policy and Procedure Manual.
Berlin Boyd is the City Council Chair at Memphis, TN. I am a 30-year resident of Memphis. I am a Greensward supporter, environmental activist, researcher, inventor, and a small businessman in the food business. I hold a patent for a solar powered reefer truck which is the basis for an ongoing startup to build the trucks. I have done professional research since 2009, focusing on public corruption at the Federal Department of Transport, and I have participated in pro-bono research around Memphis Zoo. I was arrested in Overton Park on Memorial Day, which case was subsequently dismissed and expunged.
I am not a resident of District Seven, but Berlin Boyd, Memphis City Councilor for that district, first claimed my attention on July 19th, 2016 at the City Council Executive session. The Greensward ordinance was under discussion. The background of the issue was the lawsuit that Memphis Zoo, Inc. brought against the City, City Council and Overton Park Conservancy(OPC), seeking control of the Greensward. The OPC filed a counter-suit in February 2016.
At the July executive session, Berlin Boyd said that “the straw that broke his back” was that the OPC, which had been set up and funded by the City, had filed suit against the City. This statement struck me as bizarre, as the Zoo, whose current administration was set up by a City contract in 1994, and is also funded by the City, had first filed against the City and OPC, and the OPC’s suit was a countersuit against the Zoo, not the City. The statement was so weird that I took notice. Boyd was interfering in my District Five business.
Boyd, equally inexplicably, later proposed a motion at Council to withdraw OPC funding, alleging falsely that OPC had instigated the Open meetings lawsuit filed in April by stalwart Park defenders Dr. Susan Lacy and Stephen Humbert. The suit was actually dropped pursuant to the July 19th Greensward ordinance, and everyone involved denied that OPC had a hand in the filing of the suit. I know these people and they are straight arrows. Boyd was flogging a dead horse, as his City Council colleagues told him when they made him drop his Council resolution.
I wondered why Boyd was so vehemently against the excellent OPC. The $5,500 in contributions from the Smith family, including Diane Smith, who is on the board of Memphis Zoo, Inc., and Richard Smith, who represented the Zoo in the mediation which took part in the first half of 2016, may have had an influence.
At this time, the Greensward campaign was on the back burner, and, as I was out on ROR on a long court date, I figured I’d put on my researcher hat, take a long, hard look at Berlin Boyd, and stay out of trouble. Right on cue, I was approached by three confidential sources. One of them already had a dossier on Berlin Boyd. The following is the first part of eight postings on Berlin Boyd’s doings. The best is still to come, this is just the aperitif.
Whitehaven High School
Colorado Technical University, 2012–2014 BS Business Admin, Conferred 10th February 2015, online degree.
New College, Stamford, 1997–2000 BS Business Admin (at BetterMemphis.org and Appendix 5)
New College, Stamford, 2000–2003 MBA (at BetterMemphis.org)
New College, Stamford, 1997–2003 Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.) (Ballotpedia, Appendix 6 )
Fact-check notes on Boyd’s education claims.
New College, Stamford is a community college about 100 miles north of London, in the British rust belt. It offers second level, certificate and diploma level courses. It does not offer bachelor or masters level courses in business administration. When telephoned on 11/4/2016, the Admissions Office confirmed they do not offer these courses and they can find no record of Berlin Boyd ever being registered there.
A business degree from a UK school would be a B.Comm (Bachelor of Commerce). BS degrees are written as B. Sc. (Bachelor of Science) and are only issued for natural science degrees (Physics etc. and computer science), never for business degrees. We do not know what Berlin Boyd was doing between 1997 and 2003. We are sure he was not studying at New College, Stamford. We also don’t know why he claimed these easily checkable degrees.
Professional Qualifications fact checked.
From 14th July 2008 to 13th July 2014, Berlin Boyd held a Tennessee Real Estate License, # 318029.
It was not renewed in July 2014. Appendix 7 has a screen shot of the TN.gov license screen.
During his 2015 campaign for City Council District 7, he repeatedly described himself as a Commercial Real Estate broker. Appendix 1 is a screen shot of Berlin Boyd’s Linkedin profile from September 2015 showing occupation as Commercial Real Estate Agent at Slovis and Associates. Boyd left Slovis in 2014 but the listing remained until September 2016. Boyd removed his Linkedin profile from public view when challenged.
In the Commercial Appeal of Sept. 2nd 2015, Boyd gives his occupation as “Boyd and Associates/ government relations and real estate; Slovis and Associates”, over a year after losing his Realtor license. This listing was removed from the CA archives after a CA reporter was informed of the errors in the piece, but the CA did this without issuing a retraction. Appendix 5 has a contemporary screen shot of this piece, which we also viewed on 11/26/2016. The Google cache of the CA profile is here.
Appendix 2 is a screenshot of Berlin Boyd’s campaign website from his City Council run in 2015, claiming membership of Memphis Area Realtors Association. We assume he means MAAR, which, when called, were unable to find records of Boyd ever being a member. Appendix 3 is a listing of MAAR’s membership, taken in September 2015, showing no listing for Berlin Boyd. The campaign website is no longer hosted.
Appendix 4 is a screenshot of Berlin Boyd’s Memphis City Council bio, taken in August 2016, also claiming membership of Memphis Area Realtors Association. This was corrected in September 2016 after Boyd was officially challenged.
The Children’s Campus KARE Day Care Fraud
Kimberly Chism and Remark Chism, DBA KARE II at 1732 East Raines and KARE3/ Kare Enrichment Center at 1852 Winchester Rd and other day care businesses were raided by MPD Organized Crime Unit, USDA, US Secret Service, Marshals Service and DHS on November 14th 2013. The WREG archive was viewed on 1/9/2017.
TN DHS forced KARE II to close on the day of the well-publicized raids. On January 3rd 2014, KARE II lost its license to operate. On January 14th Children’s Campus LLC was created at Tennessee Secretary of State(SOS). On March 3rd 2014, Berlin Boyd, as the owner of Children’s Campus, submitted an application for a license to operate a day care at 1732 East Raines. DHS rejected the license application on June 24th 2014. WREG obtained this document via an Open Records Act request.
DHS said in its response that they had determined that the current Application for a License to Operate a child care agency is an attempt by Mr Boyd and Ms Chism to circumvent a history of violations of the licensing law … The application does not demonstrate that the Applicant (Boyd) has the safety, welfare and best interest of children in mind, lacks the proper character and does not have an adequate method of administration… Boyd had attempted to fool DHS.
Kare II and Kare 3 has been set up as corporations in 2009 but were dissolved by SOS in 2010. In an unrelated case of a KARE II van crash in 2011, the judge ruled that the day cares KARE II and KARE3 and one other were operated jointly by Kimberly and Remark Chism as unincorporated partners, at the time of the crash and during the 5 years of the case. A child died in the van crash.
This significantly ties Kimberly and Reveal Chism together in running the two day cares. Mr Boyd’s involvement in applying for a license as a straw man for Kimberly Chism ties his application to the fraudulent enterprise and Remark’s guilty plea.
Berlin Boyd is very likely to have known at the time of his March 2014 day care license application that he was acting as a fraudulent straw man in support of an enterprise that was under investigation for fraud.
· Tower Ventures people, 12 contributions totalling $17,500. They want the right to build cell towers in city parks.
· Smith (Fedex) family, 5 contributions for $5,500.
· Boyle Investments, 5 for $3250.
· LEDIC, 3 for $4,500.
· Carol Williamson of Memphis Wrecking (the landfill), 1 for $1000.
· The Hydes, 4 for $1,500.
· Friends of Kemp Conrad, 1 for $1500.
· IAFF Local 1784 PAC 2 for $6,000.
· Reid Hedgepeth, 1 for $1,500.
· Citizens for Better Government $750 and no address given. They are a wingnut anti-government group allied to Trump.
· Brenda Solomito of the Truck Stop proposal, 250.
· George Flinn, $567.
In summary, Berlin Boyd falsified his educational and professional qualifications in the resume he presented to the people of Memphis during the 2015 campaign. He still got the job and the press, although they were aware of his false claims of being a Commercial Real Estate broker, refused to out him.
In subsequent posts, we will be examining, in detail, Boyd’s public statements, the official response to some of his claims, his voting record, his cozy relationships with various entities, including Memphis Wrecking Co and Solomito Developments, his record on CLERB and police transparency and whatever else comes to light. We have many more documents to share. Contact me with your Berlin Boyd or Worth Morgan information. We have an ongoing transparency cell focusing on Berlin Boyd and we are staffing up a similar effort on Worth Morgan. We are willing to assist anyone who wishes to research any civic issue or representative.
Appendix 1: Page 2 of Berlin Boyd’s Linkedin entry
Date of Listing: Sept. 29th 2015 at 11.23.38 AM
Appendix 2: Screenshot of Berlinboyd.com
Taken 9/29/2015 at 11.21.27 AM. The website is no longer hosted.
Appendix 3: Screenshot of maar.org Member Listings
Taken 9/29/2015 at 2.44.35 PM, listing all Boyds but not Berlin.
We viewed this page on 11/26/2016 and saved this URL. We brought the matter to the attention of CA staff, and since then the URL was removed, without a retraction or correction in the paper. This screen shot was saved on 9/29/2015. The Google cache of this page is here.
Appendix 6: Berlin Boyd’s Linkedin Education entry
We viewed Berlin Boyd’s Linkedin profile, https://www.linkedin.com/in/berlin-boyd-80a14912 on 11/26/2016 and saved this screen snip. The Linkedin page has since been removed from public view. Here, Boyd claims only a primary BBA degree obtained between 1997 and 2003. Elsewhere he claimed a BS and an MBA in business studies from New College Stamford.
Persistent rumors that MPD is using a list of activists have been circulating since the December 19th “Die-In” at Mayor Strickland’s house. There are reports of a bound folder containing up to 150 names and personal details, seen at the security desks of various City buildings.
On Tuesday 7th February, I attended City Hall. One of the police detail approached me in the Council Chamber and asked me to come outside. He said he was ‘detaining’ me and asked me to stand in a corner.
I saw a plainclothes officer going through a folder at the security desk, and he then approached me and introduced himself as Lieutenant A Bonner. He informed me that I was on a list, and henceforth I was required to have an escort whenever I went in City Hall. I asked why I was on the list and he said that it was because of the protest at the Mayor’s house. I pointed out that no crime was committed during the “Die-In” and that, in any event, I was not there. He said that it must have been something I wrote on social media.
I should point out that I have no criminal record. Although I was arrested in Overton Park on Memorial Day for photographing police activities, my charge was dismissed on September 19th and my record expunged, so MPD has no right to have any records on me. I have also had at least two successful FBI background checks in recent years, including one in late 2016. I am clean as a whistle. Anything I wrote on social media in relation to the “Die-In” would have been first amendment free speech. As would my pieces on MemphisTruth.org and MotorcycleAction.org where I have been publishing lately.
I have a wrongful arrest case at IAD and also CLERB. Members of Concerned Citizens Coalition who were at the Graceland protest in August had cases for misdemeanor criminal trespass which were dismissed and some of the defendants have a civil rights case against the City currently in progress. One of the plaintiffs in this case, Keedran Franklin, was followed by multiple MPD vehicles on February 6th.
The take-away: The organizations with which I am allied, Concerned Citizens Coalition and the Greensward “The Fringe Element” group, whose members seem to make up the majority of the Activist-List (A-List ) 150, have really gotten under someone’s skin in the MPD and/or at the City.
The only open prosecutions against protesters at the moment are those against the twelve Valero protesters. If there are 150 people on this list, 138 of them are not accused of any crime and are presumably on this list because of exercising our First Amendment rights to speak and protest.
The Memphis Police Department and the City of Memphis do not engage in political intelligence. No member shall intercept, record, transcribe or otherwise interfere with any communications by means of electronic or covert surveillance for the purpose of political intelligence gathering.
No member shall engage in any action or disseminate damaging, derogatory, false or anonymous information about any person which will deprive any individual of their First Amendment Rights; nor will any member encourage, cooperate with, or contract with any local, state, federal or private agency to plan or conduct any investigation involving political intelligence.
Any member conducting or supervising a lawful investigation of criminal conduct (governed by 28 CFR Part 23*) in which the investigation may result in the collection of information about the exercise of First Amendment Rights, or interfere in any way with the exercise of such First Amendment Rights must immediately bring such information to the attention of the Director of Police Services for review and authorization. If approved, the investigation will not exceed more than ninety (90) calendar days. An extension may be granted by the Director for an additional ninety (90) days if necessary.
The regulations for this DR are in accordance with the judgment and decree for Civil Case 76-449 (which can be found on the opening page of the MPD Kiosk website).
* The fundamental principles found in 28 CFR Part 23 operating policies provide law enforcement with the guidance needed to operate criminal intelligence information systems effectively while safeguarding privacy and civil liberties. The Memphis Police Department will operate within the confines of 28 CFR Part 23.
We wrote about Berlin Boyd’s bogus educational qualification and realtor license claims, his irrational attempt to defund Overton Park Conservancy and his complicity in a scheme to defraud the government in Chapter 1 of our Boyd series.
The most disturbing fact about Boyd’s many misrepresentations is that the Memphis media, including all the print and TV media and several online media, and also his leading opponents in District 7, were aware of Boyd’s misrepresentation of himself as a realtor during the 2015 election campaign, and not one of them mentioned anything about the scandal.
While every medium ignored Boyd’s lies, we view the Commercial Appeal as a leading cause of the problem, because they published false information.
On September 2nd, 2015, in this bio by Kyle Veazey, they published that he was a realtor, despite the fact that his real estate license had expired in July 2014. They also said that he had a B.S. in Business Administration from New College, Stamford. This is false. New College Stamford does not offer bachelors degree in business, and they have no record of Boyd ever being registered there. Chapter 1 deals with these issues and how easy they were to fact-check. The reporter, Kyle Veazey, now works for the City, and this piece is fake news.
When I published Chapters 1 and 2 of Berlin Boyd – District 7 Man of Mystery, fact-checking and revealing the TREC case against him for his fraudulent realtorship claims, the media maintained their silence, despite a mail blast we did to dozens of reporters.
Ryan Poe, the City beat reporter for the Commercial Appeal, invited me to send him the material, which I did in a series of emails between November 8th and 11th 2016. I sent all the information behind Chapter 1 and selected information from the TREC episode, including the case number and a list of the documents in the file.
I sent him the following links to articles in the CA archive: the Veazey Boyd profile and a piece on the day care raids in these emails.
Ryan Poe, quoted from social media on January 9th, said: “we’ve had lots of problems with our archived articles. I’ll let the tech folks know that link is broken.” I have a master’s degree in computer science and 32 years experience in IT, and my professional opinion is that a sysadmin that cannot maintain a simple, low-volume archive like this with 100% reliability would not keep his or her job for long, and would subsequently be unemployable.
Mr Poe also said that he was still ‘looking into’ the information I provided two months previously. It took me about ten minutes to do the fact checking that Veazey should have done in 2015. Mr Poe attends City Council meetings on Tuesdays and manages to meet the deadline for publication in the Wednesday paper.
On January 9th, I tried searching the CA archives using the publication dates of the missing pieces, and what seemed like otherwise full issues were found. I tried searching other candidate bios, also successfully. I tried loading every CA article in my browser bookmarks and history. I only found one other saved link which would not load, a January 2015 article about how Boyd recently moved into District 7. I was unable to find a single Boyd 2015 candidate profile remaining on the Web, from any publication, although there was a 2014 profile from his County Commission run.
Boyd’s Linkedin profile, which mentioned his bogus degrees, has also been removed from public view since November. It was changed in September, after TREC notified him of the case against him, to remove the false realtor claim. It still contained a falsehood, that he had been a Council member continuously from 2011 to 2016, when it was removed.
I singled out the Commercial Appeal for criticism, because they published a fake bio of Berlin Boyd which subsequently has disappeared. This is because I was in possession of contemporary screen grabs of bogus Boyd information and could verify that the information was there before it was removed. I do not know if other publications also printed false Boyd information, other than what I documented in Chapter 1.
The rest of the Memphis media – the Flyer, the Daily News and the TV stations, also received information proving that his Realtor claims were false. They chose not to publish it in 2015, and again when it was shared with them in January 2017.
Why is Boyd-related material disappearing from the record? Why does The Commercial Appeal selectively lose Boyd material to their archive problem? Why do the entire Memphis media remain silent on Boyd’s bogus bio and involvement in the day care frauds? Is there a cover-up in progress?
Updated 2/13/2016: TREC announced on February 10th that they had voted to close the case against Boyd.
We also learned that the 1978 Consent Decree between ACLU and City of Memphis forbids City of Memphis officials to “disseminate damaging, derogatory, false … information about any person”, like what Boyd said about me in his response to TREC .
In Chapter 1 I wrote about how Berlin Boyd’s actions against the Overton Park Conservancy caught my attention. I wrote about his misrepresentations during the 2015 campaign, where he claimed non-existent degrees from an obscure British community college and that he was a Realtor. We also documented his involvement in a fraudulent day care operation.
Tennessee Real Estate Commission (TREC) administers Real Estate licenses, and it is an offense, punishable by a civil fine, to represent yourself as a realtor without a license.
I filed a complaint on August 10th, 2016. The appendix contained screen dumps also seen in Chapter 1 Non-public personal contact details in these documents have been redacted to comply with our privacy guidelines.
When a response seemed overdue, I emailed TREC, and received this reply on September 26th. Somehow, the certified letter TREC has sent to Boyd’s home address had not been accepted and had not been returned to TREC. A confidential source at City Hall recounted how TREC ‘s second notification was signed for by a City official and how Boyd exhibited extreme annoyance when given the letter.
Berlin Boyd responded to TREC’s complaint. My rebuttal email and the attachment, as well as TREC’s most recent email are available. All links except the one in the first paragraph are to copies of public documents, which may be obtained via Open Records Act from Tenn. Dept of Commerce, citing TREC complaint number 201604873. TREC’s legal counsel was reviewing the case as of November, and the case could be dismissed, settled via consent order or go to a public hearing in Nashville. It is interesting to note that TREC took on this complaint with exactly the same information as was presented to the Memphis news media in 2015, and which they declined to report at the time or since.
He starts out apologizing for me. Like I said in my rebuttal: “He apologizes for my complaint where a sincere apology for his own actions would have been appropriate”. If an apology becomes necessary, I’ll do my own. This is an ad-hominem attack.
He included an excerpt from the Commercial Appeal report of my May 31th arrest in Overton park. He failed to mention that my false arrest for the protected activity of photographing police was dismissed on September 19th, and my record expunged. This was before his September 26th letter to TREC. The legality of a public official citing an expunged arrest is doubtful. As the arrest had nothing to do with Boyd or his Realtor claims, I view this as an ad-hominem attack, designed to discredit me, rather than any of the evidence I presented.
Mr Boyd also said that, subsequently (to the May 30th arrest) that I had been removed from Council chambers and that I had engaged in verbal attacks. This didn’t happen. The Council meetings are reported in the press and are on video. I challenge anyone to produce video or evidence of me being thrown out, or engaging in anything but constructive discussion of the issues, with all due decorum. This is not just an outright lie, like his bogus educational claims, but an ad hominem attack. In my opinion it reflects a misunderstanding of the First Amendment.
He claimed my complaint was a “personal attack”. In fact I did not make any ad-hominem claims in my TREC submission, which was entirely supported by documentation. His response, however, is largely a personal attack on me.
Mr Boyd said in his response that “I do not go on Linkedin” to explain why falsehoods appeared on his profile up to September 2016, when he updated it in response to the TREC complaint. The attachment to my rebuttal contains three dated Linkedin screenshots, showing several changes during the period. Boyd does go on Linkedin. His Linkedin profile is no longer viewable by the public.
Mr Boyd, in the Linkedin profile and on Ballotpedia, (where he still claims to be a Commercial Real Estate Agent and cites a bogus degree) claims he was a City Councillor from 2011 to present. He was co-opted to the Council in 2011 for a few months to fill a vacancy, did not stand in the 2011 ballot, and was not on the council in 2012 through 2014. He was again co-opted in 2015 and won election in 2015, taking office on 1/1/2016. In his response, he again used this claim to conflate his 2015 City Council bio, claiming membership of “MARA”, with the 2011 bio, which went away when he was not a councilor.
In summary, the author’s opinion is that, rather than providing contradictory evidence to the complaint, Boyd chose to go ad hominem and to add a couple of more inaccuracies (not going on Linkedin, my being thrown out of Council chambers and claims of continuous Council membership since 2011) to his already numerous prevarications.
The ad hominem is what it is: an admission that he has nothing. I expected this when I went public with the TREC complaint, and I am happy to let Mr Boyd do his thing. His reply to TREC, by additional falsehoods on the record and by his apology on my behalf, implies contempt of the lawful process of TREC. It also suggests that Mr. Boyd’s political judgment is flawed, which also makes him unsuitable for public office.
This is the second in a series of posts on Berlin Boyd. Future chapters will examine Boyd’s relationship with the press, the TREC outcome, and a review of his public record at City Council. Sign up for our RSS feed or our e-mail notifications to follow the unraveling political career of Berlin Boyd. We also have a confidential contact form for whistle blowers and informed sources.
I am is a researcher based in Memphis, TN. I am an environmentalist, social activist, Greensward Protector, fully paid up geek, small businessman and inventor. This is my introductory post to Memphis Truth Commission.
This site was set up to crowdsource transparency problems seen in the Memphis media and government.
This post, on City Council Chair, Berlin Boyd, is an example of the problems we face. Mr Boyd is found to have claimed bogus academic degrees and to have falsely claimed to be a Real Estate Broker, while unlicensed, during the 2015 election campaign. These claims were published without subsequent retraction, in the newspaper of record, The Commercial Appeal. The material relating to Mr Boyd’s claims of being a Realtor was widely circulated to the media, social media and some of his opposing candidates during the campaign, and the story was not taken up by the media or the candidates.
Subsequently, the information in the piece was shared with a Commercial Appeal reporter in November of 2016. This did not result in a correction of the record and the reporter, two months later, said he’s “looking into it”. However, two links to stories in the CA archive, which were shared with this reporter, were seen to have been removed from the archive in January, 2017. Mr Boyd’s LinkedIn profile had also gone from public view.
Welcome to our transparency website. We’re here because of a major problem with transparency in our beloved City of Memphis.
The prolog is a piece I wrote on Berlin Boyd. It details a story of how Candidate (now Chairman) Berlin Boyd claimed degrees and professional qualifications to which he was not entitled during the 2015 election cycle. It also cited involvement in a day care fraud scandal and his irrational dislike of the Overton Park Conservancy.
The information on the false claim of Realtorship had been widely circulated to all the media in town, some prominent social media pages and to some of Boyd’s opponents in the District 7 race, but no-one published this vital information.
The post details how Mr Boyd’s inconsistent statements about the OPC aroused my curiosity and how I was concentrating on indoor activities in the summer of 2016. A crew, consisting of me and three confidential sources, came in possession of the dossier that had circulated in 2015 and was able to confirm that the realtor claims were bogus, and investigated further.
I noticed that these archived pieces had been removed from the CA archive in January of 2017 and both links were still dead at the time of writing.
The CA reporter with whom I shared the information in November claimed he was still “looking into it” two months later, and was also informed of the missing archives.
The lengths to which the press is prepared to go to protect public figures is a concern to anyone interested in the efficient working of democracy, which requires transparency.
I have a long list of other issues: over a dozen unresponded City open records requests, some dating back to May. The Zoo’s refusal to follow the Open Records and Open Meetings acts, as a quasi-governmental entity. Evidence that City Councillors talked about defunding the OPC in March of 2016. Failure of the City to follow plans to install solar panels on City buildings. MPD violations of the first and fourth amendments. I have spoken to numerous members of the public who have similar issues.
If we are to have fact checking and transparency in our media and our politics, it will have to be people-powered and crowdsourced.