By Fergus Nolan
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.
Update 2/8/2017 1:00 PM: MPD is under a 1978 court order, and had an official policy, against political surveillance: https://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-27551085.html
Update 2/8/2017 5:50 PM From MPD P&P Manual Chapter 1 section 3
DR 138 POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE
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.
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