We transcribed the conversation.
Police Officer: (talking on phone outside front door): AoAs, all right. Yes, sir. (Hangs up cellphone).
Police Officer: (talking to Rodney Fisher): Mr Fisher, I guess the lieutenant colonel wanted me to call you regarding the Nike incident or something. You worked at Nike, correct?
Rodney Fisher: I WORK at Nike. I work at Nike now.
Police Officer: I don’t know the situation. They just told me to come over here.
Rodney Fisher: Talk to me. Nike sent you to me?
Police Officer: The Lieutenant Colonel sent me over here to you.
Rodney Fisher: OK, I’m listening.
Police Officer: I don’t know what the problem is at Nike. I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know at all. All I was told by the person in charge is that you are going to be on an AoA for whatever reason. I don’t know why you are on an Authorization of Agency.
Rodney Fisher: Authorization of Agency? That’s the new law that Amy Weirich created.
Police Officer: You go on the property, you’ll be arrested, OK?
Rodney Fisher: That’s the new law that Amy Weirich created, so I’m being warned to stay away from my job?
Police Officer: So you can call Nike, that’s right, call your boss, see what’s going on, and they can get you… You work for Nike, see if they can take you off the AoA.
Rodney Fisher: So hold on. I haven’t been fired by Nike, I work for Nike. So, basically, Memphis Police Department is firing me from my job. Basically.
Police Officer: No, I can’t fire you.
Rodney Fisher: Basically, you are telling me I can’t go to work in the morning.
Police Officer: You can go. I am just telling you what I …
Rodney Fisher: If I go to work I’ll go to jail.
Police Officer: That’s what I was told.
Rodney Fisher: Yes. So I can go to work in the morning, but be prepared to go to jail.
Police Officer: They said you were on that banned Authorization of Agency.
Rodney Fisher: Ban? Amy Weirich created. That’s a law that Amy Weirich created in Memphis.
Police Officer: Anybody on that … In Memphis …
Rodney Fisher: It’s really not a law. It’s just created by Mayor Jim Strickland and Amy Weirich. They did that. The Authorization of Agency law.
Police Officer: The business had to do that. The police can’t do that.
Rodney Fisher: I know that. It’s created. The police interacted. They use that as a weapon of choice to carry out that AoA law. It’s not lawful. So if I go to work in the morning, and you lock me up, that’s not lawful. So you’re basically harassing me at my home, in the middle of the night, and I’m trying to get rest to go to work in the morning and when I go to work in the mornng, you’re going to lock me up.
Police Officer: You got the information I brought you.
Rodney Fisher: You got some papers, some documentation?
Police Officer: Lieutenant Colonel sent me to this address to talk to you.
Rodney Fisher: Roger Fisher at Nike told you I can’t come to work tomorrow?
Police Officer: That’s what i was told by Lieutenant Colonel McNeil. (Dennis L. McNeil).
Rodney Fisher: So basically the colonel is not taking responsibility for it.
Police Officer: Threats on social media or something like that. I don’t know, I didn’t see anything.
Rodney Fisher: Threats on social media?
Police Officer: That was my last hearsay. You are not being charged with that because I haven’t seen anything, but that’s what was said, that’s what the colonel said.
Rodney Fisher: I put threats on social media?
Police Officer: Yes.
Rodney Fisher: OK. Who did he say I threatened?
Police Officer: I had a one-minute conversation.
Rodney Fisher: So now I am on an AoA and I haven’t been fired, but I can’t go to my job. You need to call your boss and get it fixed. I can’t fix it.
Rodney Fisher: Real news … real news … real news …
— End of Transcript.
Comments on transcript.
Lieutenant Colonel Dennis L. MeNeil Sr is a 30+-year MPD officer, whose son, Dennis L. MeNeil Jr is also on the force. The lieutenant colonel was recently attached to the Airways precinct.
Authorization of Agency is a semi-formal process at MPD which was sponsored by Memphis Shelby Crime Commission and DA Amy Weirich, starting around the time Weirich became DA in 2011. As a matter of fact, Jim Strickland was not involved in the initiation of AoA in 2011, but he did popularize AoA as a political weapon in 2017, of which he was accused and lost in the 2018 ACLU federal case. Strickland also violated Law Society rules by signing a false document, as there were far more names than the ten or so die-in protest participants on his AoA. And, in my case, I was told by Lieut Bonner that I was on the watchlist for “something I said on social media”, which was first amendment protected speech. Otherwise, Rodney Fisher demonstrated a good grasp of what an AoA is, and showed foresight in videoing the interaction.
We documented almost 1,700 cases, most of which identified the race of the accused. This is a profoundly racist and profiled victim list, where 84.9% of victims were identified by MPD as African American as opposed to 12.3% Caucasian.
AoA contravenes Tennessee trespass law, which does not authorize the practice, and the system is not documented in the MPD Policy and Procedures or any other law or regulation we can find. There are profound issues with AoA including a lack of due process, which can be clearly seen if you compare AoA “procedures” with those around Orders of Protection.
How to Fire People
As the conversation could be interpreted as MPD firing Rodney Fisher, let’s review the accepted procedures for firing an employee.
- The employee is summoned to their manager’s office and informed they are being fired. Employee’s ID card is surrendered.
- A security guard escorts former employee to their workstation, where system accesses have been canceled. Employee collects personal belongings.
- Employee is escorted to the parking lot by security officer.
- Employee is usually not allowed on campus without an appointment thereafter.
- If the employee is a regular employee past their probation and not a contractor, they are paid in lieu of notice in their final paycheck.
In Rodney’s case, the police officer is basically doing the firing, as Rodney can’t access the Nike campus to be properly fired by his boss. The police officer is acting as an agent of the employer not just to inform the employee of his AoA status, but effectively to do the management’s job by informing Rodney that he has been fired. It is not the job of a police force to inform people in a commercial contract of a breach with other parties to that contract, or to save money by avoiding paying for notice.
The AoA form AA 0306 contains a statement that the business manager has informed the accused of the existence of the AoA. “the following individuals have, by personal commnication from me or someone authorized to act for me been ordered to stay off the described property”. So this anonymous policeman was authorized to act for a Nike manager? Can he sign checks and sell Nike property?
AoA as a firing mechanism.
We document in our AoA piece, with reference to the source documents, where Nike took out five AoAs in the 2016-2018 period. Smith and Nephew also used the AoA process 85 times in the AoA report.
In this case, the unidentified officer is operating on the self-admitted basis of hearsay and is “just following orders” from Lieutenant Colonel McNeil. So the police action in visting Rodney Fisher was ordered by police brass and not Nike management. Is there a transactional chain where the Nike manager transferred authority to the police officer via the Lieuranant Colonel and can this be done on the basis of hearsay, as described by the officer.
First Amendment issues.
Rodney Fisher’s Facebook page is very political and Fisher is active in many political issues, from the Hoodie problem at Wolfchase Galeria, where he tested the security procedures, to the support of candidates in the 2019 City elections.
MPD has frequently used the vague accusation of “threats” to justify creating a file on individuals. This seems to have been promulgated as a tactic by the state Fusion Centers. Oftentimes the threats are bogus but the file, once opened, are hard to get deleted.
In fact, the First Amendment has an exception for threats, but the threat needs to be a specific and credible threat to commit violence against a specified person or recognizable group of people who can credibly be harmed by the accused. In practice, people who the police seek to maintain illegal records about have been targeted on the basis of vague and unrealistic threats often allegedly conveyed by social media. The 2018 ACLU case documents many such cases.
In particular, the AoA process has been used for political purposes in the cases of the City blacklist, Hunter Demster, Maureen Spain and yours truly at the Zoo, in relation to protests at the Greensward and now Rodney Fisher.
In this case, a private entity like Nike can fire an employee for speech protected by the First Amendment, but a police department can’t act against an individual for protected free speech. Is this an investigation by MPD that might reveal political information and require authorization by Police Director Rallings?
Update: Rodney Fisher interviewed.
We reached Rodney Fisher by phone on the afternoon of 7/26/2019. He clarified some points. His actual employer was DHL, not Nike. He worked at a complex at 5155 Lamar, near Shelby Drive. It was run jointly by DHL and Nike. One side of the building was run by each company. Their trucks dock on their own side of the building and stock is “cross-docked” from side to side.
On Wednesday July 24th Rodney was called into a meeting, where it was obvious that the company was assembling a case to fire him, possibly in response to some organization he was doing on the site. But he was not fired on Wednesday
On Friday he called his boss and was informed of his termination. He did not try to go to work on Friday after the police visit.
In particular, Rodney Fisher made no Facebook threats as referred to by the policeman. These were mis-statements directed at Mr Fisher’s reputation by the police, possibly as an excuse to create a file on him. A search of Mr. Fisher’s Facebook posts between Wednesday and Friday confirms this. The ACLU trial contains numerous instances of this type of smear directed at political actors by MPD. We’ll do a piece on this soon.
Mr Fisher was quite angry at this turn of events and is exploring his options.
We shared this information with the MPD Court Monitor to add to their accumulation of AoA information. We also spoke to lawyers who work with ACLU who responded “This is crazy”.
We invited Nike and MPD to comment for this article and neither responded on Friday.
Updated 7/26/2019 by adding this section.
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