Authorization of Agency Update

We wrote about Authorization of Agency (AoA) last year, providing source data, collations and some analysis of almost 1,700 Authorization of Agency reports, obtained by public records request from Memphis Police Department (Est 1827).

We recently received another 473 AoA forms covering July 2018 to July 2019.   We collated the data in a spreadsheet, which is available on Google Docs, or downloadable as Open Office or MS Excel formats.   Each row of these files contain a link to a .PDF document containing a scanned copy of the original AoA and the page number to look in this .PDF.  The entire corpus may be downloaded here.

These data are provided for free under the GNU open source agreement.  Please let us know of any errors or bad links.

What is AoA?

Authorization of Agency is an off-the-books system carried in 3-ring binders in the cruisers attached to a given ward, as copies of the original form.   A ward is a subdivision of an MPD precinct.  It violates Tennessee trespass law, has no due process, entraps children as young as eleven, and is unsupported by MPD’s policy and procedures manual, the MPD Academy curriculum or the official computer systems at MPD.

Because the process is off the books, there are no systemic checks for typos, accuracy, completeness or readability.   All records are maintained in the original, handwritten state as photocopies or faxes.

We have found a mention of AoA as early as 2007.  Our original AoA report traces rapid increases in the use of AoA from around 2011, the start of Amy Weirich’s tenure at the DA’s office.  The use of AoA reached a peak of almost 600 in 2017 and has remained high since.     The rise, from just a few in 2011 to the 2017 high suggests that a marketing campaign, spearheaded by the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission and the DA’s office, was in place throughout Weirich’s time as prosecutor.

AoA as political weapon.

AoA, as an off-the-books system of sanctions, was used for years as a method of rousting “undesirables” from business premises.  As such, the poor and disenfranchised victims had little recourse.

MPD started using AoA as a political weapon when two Greensward protesters were secretly placed on an AoA by the Zoo in summer of 2016.

Then, following a “die-in” protest at the Mayor’s house, 43 politically active individuals were placed on an AoA, for an event which had at most a dozen attendees.   This was the basis of the City blacklist and subsequent Federal case.

Later, in 2017, an additional AoA at the Zoo listed two individuals and resulted in a confrontation with police, but no arrests.   Neither of the two Zoo AoAs were notified to the listed individuals, in violation of the procedure specified on the AoA form.   In addition, a forgery was committed as proven by a form which had a second subject added over the same signature.   This addition of subjects happened in several AoAs in the 2018 corpus.

In 2019, an animal welfare activist, Dan Rosson, was placed on an AoA after incurring the wrath of City COO, Doug McGowan and officials at the Animal Shelter.

Later, in the summer of 2019, industrial activist Rodney Fisher, was functionally fired from his contract logistics job by an MPD officer sent to his house.  Fisher captured video of the event, implicating a senior MPD officer in the process.

With the addition of two new politically-motivated AoAs in 2019, a clear pattern of the abuse of this off-the-books system as reprisals for political actions emerges.

First look at the AoAs.

MPD have started writing a new version of the AoA form, still titled AA0306, but containing much more data and appearing to be the result of a booking-style process, with fingerprints and photographs.   We saw one outlier in April and several starting in June 2019.

sample_new_aoa_redactedAs you can see from the sample pictured, which is redacted, the new form records police report and booking numbers, drivers license, address, date of birth.  Before, it was just name and physical characteristics.

This form has the appearance of something that was produced by a booking process.  The legality of police fingerprinting and photographing a person who is not being booked for a crime is questionable, and holding sensitive information in a file which is public record may also be a HIPPA issue.

We redacted personally identifying information for this illustration, although that information is in the database as released by MPD as public records.

Race Analysis

MPD categorizes everyone by race.  Only eleven AoAs, less than three percent of the total, did not track the subject by race.
race_pie_chart

So we went ahead and graphed it.  83% of respondents were African American, two percent fewer than the 2018 report.

Whites represented 14% of the total, up two percent from last time.

There were a total of 12 Asian, LatinX and Other individuals.

In view of the over-representation of African Americans in the AoAs, this may provide evidence of MPD’s racial profiling.

Age

We noticed an individual as young as eleven years of age on an AoA in the 2018 report, so this time we collected age, where it was given in the AoA.  This time, the youngest were two individuals aged 13, two more aged 14, eleven aged 15, fourteen aged 16 and nineteen aged 17.   These 48 individuals were too young to be charged with a crime, and a quasi criminal process like AoA may not be appropriate for juveniles.

Age was not given in 23 cases.   The oldest was one individual aged 78, there were five people over seventy and seventeen in their sixties.

AoAs by Officer

Some were curious about the distribution of AoAs by officer.  We found that the 473 AoAs were distributed by 220 officers, including three postal police, so a little more than 10% of cops use AoAs.   Seventeen AoAs had no police signature, in violation of the procedure outlined on the form itself.

The 49 most prolific officers wrote three or more AoAs for a total of 231, roughly half the total number.  Officer M. Lester wrote eleven, followed by J Holmes with ten, and the leading 17 cops with six or more AoAs wrote a total of  123, more than a quarter of the total.

AoAs as reprisal, harassment or punishment

We wrote in 2018 how the Mayor placed 43 individuals on an AoA for his property in retaliation for a “die-in” protest in which no more than a dozen people participated.  Lieut Bonner of the City Hall detail added a stricture that the “A-list” people were to be escorted while in City Hall.   The rest is history.

We also documented the existence of two AoAs at the Zoo, with Maureen Spain and Fergus Nolan being banned from this public facility a couple of days after their May 2016 arrest at the zoo, against whom no crime was committed.   An additional AoA was issued for Fergus Nolan and Hunter Demster at the Zoo in 2017 on another occasion where no crime was charged.   On these two occasions, the police used the AoA as a political weapon on behalf of themselves or others.   (Author’s note:  I was on all three of the AoAs mentioned above. )

In our new dataset, we include two AoAs of which we had written before:

Dan Rosson was targeted by City Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowan and other city and Memphis Animal Services officials after he blew the whistle on conditions at the Pound.  His AoA is page 1 of this file. (PDF).

Rodney Fisher was discussing conditions for contract workers at a logistics warehouse when he was  informed by a cop who came to his house that he was effectively fired via AoA.  His is on page 3 of this file. (PDF).   There is video of the event as captured by Mr. Fisher on his doorstep.

It seems that MPD has a pattern of harassing not only generally disadvantaged individuals with AoA, but there is also a pattern of AoA use by police as a reprisal for political action and views of which they disapprove, and this is tied in to the keeping of files and social media snooping on activists.

Data description

#: is an arbitrary number
Business: Name of the business
Street#, Street: as labeled
Business Catg:  Type of business
Surname, First Name: as labeled
Race:  As described by MPD
Date:  Date of AoA as signed by police
Source file See Page:  Clickable link to the .PDF scan of the AoA
# Pages:  Number of AoA pages in the source file
Page:  The page number of this AoA in the file
Note: There is additional information on the AoA.   This and the following fields are newly added since the 2008 version of the spreadsheet
Count:  it is always 1
Station:   MPD station originating the AoA
Ward:  A ward is a subdivision of a police precinct.  We captured it when available
Officer:  Name and IBM# of the cop who witnesses the AoA, when decipherable
Age: Age of the AoA recipient.

–concluded–

 

MPD documents from ACLU Lawsuit.

truth_squad
In the witness room at the ACLU trial, from left: Spencer Kaaz, Earle Fisher, Keedran Franklin, Fergus Nolan, Paul Garner.  Photo and artwork by  Elaine Blanchard.  The book in the bottom left corner is my copy of Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”, which I bought just for the trial.

The 2018 lawsuit which ACLU fought and won has produced tens of thousands of pages of documents.

“On March 2, 2017, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee intervened in Blanchard v. City of Memphis, a lawsuit challenging the City of Memphis’ creation of a list of people, including multiple members of the Black Lives Matter movement and other local political activists and organizers, who require a police escort while visiting City Hall.”

ACLU won the case and a court monitor was tasked with supervising changes at MPD.  Documents from the case can be found on the ACLU website, the Court Monitor website, and on the City sitePACER contains all the publicly available documents from the case.  It requires a free registration and they will bill you after 150 pages in a quarter.   There are more documents here.

All those documents

We viewed the wealth of documents produced by the trial as the added bonus, over and above the effects of the judgement.   The documents offer a new and unique insight into the corrupt nature and practices at MPD.  But who had time to download and read through tens of thousands of pages of dry legalese?

To provide a narrative, and to avoid further torment to people already maligned in the police material, I provide a personalized romp through the papers focused on what they say about me.   The other people mentioned have given permission to use their mugshots.

The Saul Alinsky Thread

P177_alinsky_personalize

From Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgement page 177.   This is from a section titled “Blue Suede Shoes Post-Investigation Follow-up”, about the August 2016 Graceland police riot.   I was not at Graceland for either of the two protests that July and August.

And I never read the Alinsky book.   But facts are not a requirement for a Joint Intelligence Bulletin.

These JIBs were circulated daily to law enforcement and to commercial firms in the Memphis area.   They have resulted in all sorts of problems to the people featured, including difficulty in finding employment.

Doc_A_p_186_Personalize

From Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgement page 186.  This is from a section about the July 2016 Bridge protest.   I wasn’t at this protest either.   I was out on bail, with a long court date, from the Memorial Day Greensward arrest and I was avoiding protests on the advice of my attorney.   I have never met Dana Asbury, and I knew Spencer Kaaz and Maureen Spain casually from that Greensward protest.  We did not embarrass MPD and pit them against the citizens of Memphis.  MPD did that to themselves.

Paul Garner’s Book Review

Garner_and_alinsky

This post by Paul Garner of Mid South Peace and Justice Center was featured in an email by Det. Tim Reynolds AKA Bob Smith.   It is from Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgement page 213.   Garner posted a book review, 58 people “liked” it and Reynolds included the Facebook avatars and names of all 58 in a JIB.  JIBs were widely circulated among law enforcement and a list of Memphis businesses.

This sheds light on the previous two images, both showing quotes from the Alinsky book.   The thing is, I have never read the book.   I ordered the book in August 2018 just before the trial, when I saw the above material.  While in the witness room during the ACLU trial, I made a point of carrying it around.   But I was never able to finish it.  The writing is poor and the insights trivial.

alinsky
Saul Alinsky in 1968 (Getty Images)

As this article in Vox, by Dylan Matthews explains, Alinsky was literally demonized by the far-right.  “(Ben) Carson explained (erroneously), Alinsky dedicated his book Rules for Radicals to none other than … Satan himself!”.  The book was dedicates to Alinsky’s mother.  Because Hillary Clinton wrote a thesis about Alinsky, and because  Rudy Giuliani attacked Barack Obama for being “educated in the Saul Alinsky methods.” Glenn Beck, Newt Gingrich, Andrew Breitbart, Rush Limbaugh, Monica Crowley and Bill O’Reilly repeatedly ranted about Alinsky.

Bob Smith AKA Tim Reynolds is using coded far right ideology when they invoke Alinsky.   Never mind it was just a few people reading a book review, as protected by the First Amendment.

The truth of the matter is that Saul Alinsky was an old, non violent white man and we old, non violent white men are harmless and impotent.

At the Greensward.

FNandBS_redacted
Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgement page 222 to 251 lists 30 people Bob Smith friended  since July 2015.  Names of mutual friends are redacted.

Bob Smith friended me on Facebook in May 2016, the same month as Spencer Kaaz.   Prior to this, Bob Smith friended Tami Sawyer, Paul Garner, Ian Jeffries, Bradley Watkins and Athena Palmer between July and November 2015.  This time coincided with the killing of Darrius Stewart, the campaign to restart CLERB and Garner’s false arrest for photographing police at Manna House.

reliable_sources

This is from Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgement page 178, in a section titled “Blue Suede Shoes”, a reference to the Graceland protests, which I did not attend.   The only group I was a member of at the time was Citizens’ Climate Lobby, which engages members of Congress on climate change policy.   That and the Greensward constituted my ‘radical agenda’.

The “reliable source” was far-right police infiltrator Tim Reynolds AKA Bob Smith.

fn_arrested

This is from Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgement page 179.   It contains a lie.   I spent the entire morning taking photographs of the protest and the events preceding it.   I have 211 photos to prove this.  I never sat down or blocked Zoo officials, as the arrest ticket confirms.  Photographing police activities is protected by the first amendment and MPD photo policy.  At no point did any Greensward protest prevent a single visitor from accessing the Zoo, and Zoo attendance was up in the 2016 fiscal year ending June 30th 2016.   In fact, the Free Parking Brigade helped visitors find free parking in the area surrounding the Zoo and probably increased attendance.

ticket

This is from Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgement page 180.   I was arrested while  I was “at the rear of the police van, attempting to take pictures”.  Bizarrely it goes on to say that I was arrested because the crowd started shouting after I was arrested.

IMG_1792
The Greensward, parking on the grass.   Photo:  Fergus Nolan

In any event, my case was dismissed and expunged so public officials should not be using these records and mugshots for any reason.

MPD used a conspiracy theory inspired by far-right media to imagine I and other dissidents were in some radical organization inspired by the hated Saul Alinsky, using the Zoo protest as a front.   They don’t seem to get it that saving a prime and priceless park is a legitimate end in itself.

In fact, contemporary police sources reveal, Maureen’s and my arrests were due to a police error.   All our activities on the Greensward were protected by the First Amendment.

Before my arrest, I cared about the environment and a patch of precious City grass.   Since being forcibly introduced to the workings of the criminal justice system, I have spent some time exposing its internal workings.   I have never been radicalized, as I work within the system and under the protection of the first amendment, but I have gone from a few hours per week in the Park to full time exposing corruption.   I did not choose MPD, they picked me.  And dozens of innocent people who care about our city.

My role in the Greensward

I was active in the Greensward movement.   I worked with the media operations, photographed events at the park; helped analyze the Zoo finances and distances traveled by Zoo visitors; and critique the Zoo’s Economic Impact Study.   I organized the Chuck Brady Limerick Competition and various weekend activities to help get crowds to the park in April and May.  I am admin of “The Fringe Element” facebook group.

The Greensward arrests.

Certain police sympathizers in the Park Protectors (Greensward) movement objected to comments I made in the social media.  I wrote about the massive police presence on April 2nd and 3rd when 75 officers, with armored vehicles, helicopters, horses, three paddy wagons and a command center, threatened peaceful park users at a cost of $38K.

IMG_1981.JPG
Black-clad paramilitary MPD officers with AR-15 ammo pouches, at Latino Fest on the Greensward, May 7th 2016, photo Fergus Nolan

I also wrote about the Latino festival in early May which was attended by TACT officers and their Lenco armored vehicle.    I also made other first amendment protected comments about MPD and police in general.

My work in the Greensward protests was only about the Greensward protest.

I have never been a police fan, and the police intimidation on the Greensward did not dispose me more kindly.  Growing up in Northside Dublin, we knew that “all pigs are scum” and I repeated this bon mot frequently.  After interacting with MPD I now realize that the Garda Siochana of my youth were not so bad.

In 2016, police sympathizers were highly mobilized in reaction to the 2015 City actions on reducing retiree benefits and after MPA president Mike Williams lost his run for Mayor.   These cop fans infiltrated the Greensward movement.

maureen_arrest
Maureen Spain is arrested 5/30/2016 Photo: The Commercial Appeal.

Kathy Hurley, a police fan and Mike Williams’ former campaign manager,  published a post with my photo and shared it with the MPA facebook page, saying that I intended to attack police at the Memorial Day protest, which was a complete lie.   Due to my immigration status I decided not to sit down at the protest and instead spent the morning taking photos.   Some cops apparently noticed me photographing the paddy wagon, recognized me from Hurley’s photo, and jumped me six or seven minutes before the end of a notice period that MPD Major Reynolds had given in an ultimatum.

IMG_2364
Officer Richard Rouse dispensing doughnuts at the “Cop Stop” before the protest.  Photo Fergus Nolan

Police fans had organized a “cop stop” for the protest.   The idea was to bribe the police at the protest with doughnuts so they would not intervene.   This hare-brained idea was countered when the police brass ordered their members not to attend the cop stop.    They made an exception by appointing Richard Rouse as “liaison” to the park protectors.  Rouse dispensed doughnuts, schmoozed with Park Protectors all morning, reported what he found to police brass and later arrested Maureen Spain.  This demonstrates the futility of community members engaging with police, even with doughnuts.

We spoke to people knowledgeable about MPD regulations, who said that, if the police suspected I had a weapon, they should have jumped me, patted me down, and cut me loose.   Instead, they over-reacted, disobeyed Rudolph’s order to wait out the deadline, and retaliated.

In short, I was arrested because police and their supporters objected to my first amendment protected speech.  It is legal to criticize the police.

Bob Smith appears.

bob_smithBob Smith friended me in May 2016.   After the May 30th arrests, the Park Protector groups were in uproar and many of them wanted more direct action.  As admin of “The Fringe Element”, I was worried about some people, including Bob Smith, who were openly advocating more direct action.   Not wanting to have people planning things in an open group, I created a secret Facebook group on June 5th entitled “Kessler Associates” and added Bob Smith and about six other people to the group.

It had been standard practice among Park Protectors in April to internally manage any direct action, because we were fighting a PR battle in the media and it took six or seven weeks to get the media mostly favorable to us.   We had a group of marshals trained by Mid South Peace and Justice Center and took militants off-line into secret groups to let off steam.  This kept the media focused on moms and kids with balloons, and the like.

Kessler Associates discussed some possible actions, and was mainly a way for people to let off steam.   The main actions discussed were a possible “slow drive” to jam up traffic already bottlenecked at the Zoo parking lot entrance.  These plans require secrecy to stay legal.    It is legal to drive up to the Zoo window and count out 500 pennies, but if it is part of a plan to obstruct the entrance to a business, maybe not.   A vehicle might break down in traffic and hold things up quite innocently unless it is planned.  In the event, this group broke up on June 15th without executing any action, because operational security had been breached and we could not maintain plausible deniability.

Reynolds_letter
Redacted letter from Tim Reynolds AKA Bob Smith.   From Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgement

Tim Reynolds literally tried to make a Federal case out of an idle comment about hacking the Zoo.  I did not say that I had recruited two hackers, because I hadn’t, and. in fact, there were no Federal or any other indictments arising from this group.   No crimes were committed during the 10 day lifetime of Kessler Associates, and no protests were organized.   No protests were needed because news coverage of the Memorial Day arrests had gone international during this time.  Our media operation was fully engaged.

I was aware of three other secret groups at the Greensward, none of which were infiltrated by Bob Smith.  Two of these group hosted early discussions about the Memorial Day protests, but the actual logistics were organized in physical meetings.  In fact, all three groups were dominated by police sympathizers and I was thrown out of them all more than a week before Memorial Day because I objected to the “Cop Stop” plan on the basis that no good can come from consorting with police.

The A-list discovered

bonner_ltr
This letter was written by Officer Polk the day after I was told I needed an escort at City Hall.

Officer Polk, in the above memo, tried hard, after the fact, to create an offense to justify his action in requiring me to have an escort in City Hall.   The conversation I had with George Boyington was about the ineffective security at City Hall and how a determined effort to bring a weapon into the building would defeat the security.   The conversation with Boyington was overheard by Ursula Madden, the Mayor’s propagandist, but constituted free speech as no crime was contemplated and no provision of the First Amendment was violated.

There were no previous actions or threats towards the Mayor, and I was on the list because I had been falsely arrested at the Greensward because the police did not like my previous First Amendment speech directed at police.

As I wrote immediately after this notification, I was told I needed an escort because I was “on a list”.   When I asked why I was on the list, Lieut. Bonner was summoned and explained it was “because of the Mayor’s house”.    When I pointed out that I was not at the December 19th 2016 “Die-In”at the Mayor’s house, Bonner said “Then it was something you wrote on social media”.   As everything I wrote on social media was first amendment protected speech, I was listed and was being sanctioned in retaliation for first amendment speech.

I went home and wrote contemporary notes of the interaction, submitted an open records request for the list, notified the media and the rest is history.  Bruce Kramer called a meeting of blacklistees in his office, the Nashville office of ACLU became engaged and Blanchard et al, thanks to brilliant litigation by ACLU and a blustering defense by the City legal hacks, gave the people of Memphis the greatest legal win against the City since the original 1978 Kendrick consent decree.

In Summary

We saw how MPD, inspired by alt-right ideology, decided that literature fans were enemies of the state, created JIBs which slandered individuals and shared them with potential employers, accepted lies from their sycophantic supporters, breached training and discipline to arrest protesters without cause, lied about alleged crimes and escorted political opponents in City Hall in another breach of the First Amendment.

Mike Rallings sent an email to all his members in February 2017 explaining the first amendment.   He said that criticizing police is protected by the first amendment.   You’d think that the basic constitutional law of the nation would be the first thing they’d teach recruits at the academy.

I was lucky.   I was able to insulate myself against MPD slander by retiring a little early, but in the years following, dozens of City political opponents were followed, surveilled, arrested and slandered in JIBs circulated to potential employers.  Their worst “crimes” were using the First Amendment to assemble, march and speak out against injustice.  Harm was done to many young lives.

— concluded —

Dan Rosson placed on AoA by City

We have another Authorization of Agency case to share, this time that of Dan Rosson, against whom Memphis Animal Services, in collaboration with City Chief Operating Officer Doug McEwen, have created an AoA.  Once again, the City has used AoA to silence a political opponent.

AoA and the City Blacklist.

blacklist
Mike Rallings and Jim Strickland’s Blacklist.  Photo, The Commercial Appeal.

Authorization of Agency first came to public attention when the City’s Blacklist was published on half a dozen AoA forms.  Placement on Jim Strickland’s AoA was purportedly in retaliation for a December 19th Die-In action at Strickland’s, but it contained over forty activists’ names, far more than the ten or so protesters at that action.  The list was correctly interpreted as a City action against a list of activists which MPD was managing in contravention of the 1978 Kendrick Consent Decree.   The ACLU took the City and MPD to court and won.

AoA used against Zoo critics.

hunter_being_cuffed
Hunter Demster being cuffed by Officer Dan Adams at the Zoo

We publish some research on Authorization of Agency, compiling almost 1,700 AoA records obtained from MPD via Open Records Request.   While 84.9% of the AoA victims were  African Americans victims of police racism, a few, featuring Hunter Demster, Maureen Spain and myself were clearly in retaliation by the Zoo and MPD for harmless political speech.  In my case, I was on two AoAs, one issued days after my 2016 arrest at the Zoo, which was judged by the courts to be a wrongful arrest, dismissed and expunged.   My second Zoo AoA was illegally created by forging my name to an existing, pre-signed AoA with Hunter Demster, after we uneventfully visited the Zoo.   Again, this was an act of political retaliation, supported by MPD files collected in violation of Kendrick.

MPD working for private employer with AoA.

rodney
Rodney Fisher (Photo: Facebook)

Last week, we wrote about Rodney Fisher’s AoA at DHL/Nike.  In this case, Mr. Fisher’s employer used MPD to inform him that he had been fired, in retaliation for political speech at his place of employment.  The MPD Lieutentant Colonel who ordered the patrolman to inform Mr. Fisher was quoted as saying he had been targeted for non-existent “threats” made via social media, indicating that Mr. Fisher’s first amendment speech on political subjects had been investigated, and that a social media search had been performed by MPD.

New:  Dan Rosson’s AoA

Now, we have a new AoA of concern, against animal activist and dog rescue volunteer, Dan Rosson.   In this case, city employees at Memphis Animal Shelter and City Chief Operating Officer, Doug McGowan, were behind the retaliatory use of AoA.

AOA

Dan Rosson was a long-time volunteer at Memphis Animal Services.  He was a dog foster, caring for shelter dogs at his home, and performing various tasks at the shelter.   He photographed dogs and helped document their temperaments among other valuable services that saved money for the City and the lives of many dogs scheduled for euthanasia.

Me 2
Dan Rosson (photo Dan Rosson)

Mr Rosson recounts an incident at a Collierville vet, when a dog, which had been secretly labeled as potentially vicious by MAS. attacked another dog.   Rosson subsequently, at an April 2018 MAS advisory board meeting, called for volunteers to be warned about dogs labeled as problematic.   Mr Rosson, in the following months, also shared a long list of administrative issues at MAS that he wanted addressed.

On February 13th 2019 Mr Rosson posted on Facebook about some critically ill pups who needed urgent veterinary treatment.   He had been banned from transporting animals and no-one else was available to drive the pups to the vet.

Mr Rosson, as a proponent of the humane treatment of animals, was upset at the unnecessary suffering caused by the delay in the treatment of the canines.

On February 14th, Mr Rosson circulated a petition to volunteers and others, and engaged in first amendment protected speech critical of the City administration of MAS.  The petition asked the City to promote due process and prevent First Amendment abuse by MAS officials, naming  MAS director Alexis Pugh.

mcgowan
Memphis City COO Doug McGowan.  Photo: City.   We apologize for the aesthetics

On February 18th, Mr Rosson posted that City Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowan had allegedly called Rosson’s former employer, University of Tennessee.  Mr Rosson is retired from UT but had availed of the customary policy of allowing retirees to continue using their UT email.   UT canceled Mr Rosson’s email account with resultant chilling effect on his ability to engage in free speech on this issue.

On the 20th, Mr Rosson received some Open Records Requests information from the City attempting to clarify the MAS policies on administering volunteers and asking for records on his own case, and the petition was delivered to the Mayor and City Council.   That was the day the AoA was signed by Alexis Pugh.

Puke
Alexis Pugh (Photo WKNO)

On February 21st Mr Rosson was informed that he would be arrested if he set foot at MAS and was informed of other charges made by Pugh against him.   These additional charges might constitute illegal acts but were not recorded (as sometimes happens) as marginal notes on the AoA.  This suggests that MPD was maintaining other documents relating to Mr Rosson.   This implies the existence of an investigation, which, being likely to uncover political information relating to Mr Rosson’s communications with the City and MAS, should have been approved by Police Director Rallings pursuant to the Kendrick Consent Decree, which had been well aired in Federal court by this time.

Slide6
Some cute rescue puppies.  We could not leave you with those administrator photos.  

The accusations made by MAS management, if they could be substantiated, should have resulted in a police investigation.  Mr Rosson has not been charged with any offense relating to alleged incidents at MAS.

We believe that Mr Rosson’s case is an clear example of AoA being used by MPD to harass political opponents of the City, which is a pattern we have been seeing  lot of.

Note on Authorization of Agency.

If you are told, by MPD or property management, that you will be arrested if you set foot on a given property, ask if you are on an AoA.

If you are on an AoA, you can get the document for free via the City Open Records portal.  You need to specify a date range, which should be a few days before and after the date you are informed.  You need the address of the premised, and also the MPD precinct and ward in which it is located, which you can look up in the link.

Sometimes AoAs are placed without informing the victim.   In this case you find out about it at some later point, when you visit the premises.   In that case, figure out when the AoA was placed and straddle that date in your open records request.

Share your AoA adventures with us.  If you feel that the AoA is the result of an MPD investigation not approved by the Director, or if its deficient due process is being used to threaten or intimidate you, or to impede your constitutional rights, contact the MPD Court Monitor. Read our AoA information.   If you are arrested for trespass on an unposted location without being given notice to depart, share this information with your attorney.

— concluded —

Rodney Fisher fired by MPD via AoA

rodney
Rodney Fisher (Photo: Facebook)

Rodney Fisher made video of a visit from an unidentified MPD officer on the evening of July 25th, around 10 PM.   Fisher is admin of the Memphis (Real News) facebook page.

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?

Continue reading “Rodney Fisher fired by MPD via AoA”

Authorization of Agency: Initial analysis

In our most recent post, we revealed the extent of MPD’s Authorization of Agency (AoA) program, inspired by Memphis Shelby County Crime Commission (MSCCC).

We did some preliminary analysis of the data and there are updated spreadsheets (CSV, ODS, XLSX).  The update includes some address corrections and the addition of a business category field.

AOA_bar_chart
Analysis of AoAs by race

We saw the racial disparity in the initial AoA post.  The profiling nature of the scheme, with seven times (84.9% vs 12.3%) the number of Black versus white victims of AoA is confirmed.

 

 

AoA_by_year
Analysis of AoAs by year

We broke down AoAs by the year the initial AoA was signed.   2018 is low because only half a year of data was collected.   Years 211 through 2016 are incomplete because we asked in our FOIA for all AoAs between December 1st 216 and July 9th 2018.  All precincts but one simply sent all their AoA data rather than selecting the data range we asked for.   In addition, we noted many AoAs which were signed on a given date and had additional lines added over the same signature and date later.  We have not quantified this factor as of yet but we think it will skew a couple of percent of the dates earlier.

Adj_AoA_year
AoAs by year adjusted for undercount in 2016 and earlier, and for the 2018 half year

We adjusted the yearly graph by doubling up the 2018 number to estimate a full year, and we added 15% to 2016 and earlier to account for the number of AoAs missing in our sample.

The graphs look similar.  From small beginnings in 2011, the scheme grew to about 240 in 2014, then took a big jump to 665 in 2016 and plateaued out to around 600 each in 2017-2018.

We need to look for the impetus behind the 2014 and 2016 bumps.   Most likely, some form of marketing or promotional assets were assigned to the program to cause these bumps.  We’ll also submit another ORR to obtain the missing data.

AoA_by_cat

We created a new field in the spreadsheet for business category and ran this report.  The biggest category is apartment, which also includes mobile home parks, condos, retirement communities and townhouses.

The dominance of this sector may be the result of “Operation Safeway” which had a focus on apartment managers.   The majority of these had a just a few AoAs, but complexes like Greenbrier with 48 AoAs and a dozen or so with double digits stand out.    Clearly a number of apartment managements embraced the scheme enthusiastically.

The retail sector is largely a handful of AoAs in each store.   All branches of chain stores are included.   Three chains of dollar stores (Family Dollar, Dollar General, and Dollar Tree) had a total of 38 AoAs, which probably reflects the dollar stores’ well known skimping on security staff.   Other chains with large numbers includes Walgreens with 24 and Kroger with 17.   Otherwise, few retailers had more than three or four per location.

We think that, like with the apartment sector, that the heavy retail users had an internal policy to use AoA while the light users were probably recruited by police.

The food sector includes all vendors of prepared food and alcohol by the drink.   The chains with most branches are the biggest offenders, and CiCi’s Pizza in Poplar Plaza’s 17 AoAs were associated with a well-publicized disturbance at the venue.    We know that Operation Safeway targeted food establishments in certain areas, but we think that most of the rest may have been instigated by MPD, including the CiCi’s incident.

The hotel/motel sector includes hotels, motels and boarding houses, has a few stand-outs, probably related to prostitution.  The manufacturing sector, though small, is dominated by Smith and Nephew who initiated 85 of the 100 AoAs.  This is an anomaly which probably reflects a decision in management to use MPD as part of its security apparatus.

The gas sector looks very much like retail, and when you eliminate the effect of supplier chains like Shell or Exxon, not much stands out.

Public facilities include the downtown MATA terminus, with 24 AoAs and three at the Zoo.   We talked about the Zoo political blacklist in the original AoA post.  We dispute the legality of public entities barring members of the public.

Churches banned 37 people.  It sounds unchristian to us to put people in the system.   Even worse, schools had 35 AoAs, and we cannot envision a world where young people can be legally barred from education, or even where a school would involve the police in its disciplinary process.

Summary

We see some high-frequency users of AoA.  These AoAs are probably due to business policy and may have been influenced by Operation Safeway in some way.   The vast majority of AoAs have the potential of being instigated by police, including a handful where we know the case history.

We will follow up with additional analysis, including enriching the data and sampling some case histories to determine the marketing initiatives that shape the AoA usage curves.

–concluded–

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the dust settles: the ACLU court case.

This week has been a game changer.  Memphis history will forever be divided into the pre-ACLU era and the post-ACLU era.  MPD in particular is in crisis, and, because of role of public safety in our local elections, the crisis extends into the political sphere.

aclu case
Pau Garner, Spencer Kaaz, Al Lewis, Elaine Blanchard, Earle Fisher, Keedran “TNT” Franklin at the Federal courthouse, 8/20/2018.

The trial itself.

We saw a steady stream of MPD brass take the stand and be defensive.   The City strategy has been to try to make the police look reasonable, and to paint the activists as crazy fools.   This strategy plain failed, as Paul Garner, Elaine Blanchard, Earle Fisher and Keedran Franklin presented well on the stand.   It is notable that the City did not send Jim Strickland or any of the”public safety” advocates to defend their police buddies.

The defense cut their losses on Thursday and pulled the plug on trying to discredit more activists or putting more police on the stand.   Essentially, they accepted defeat after a very poor display of legal skills.

MPD’s Reaction

MPD is not a monolith.  It has leaders jockeying for position as the next director, a large number of disaffected members who are still disgruntled over pensions and benefits, a degenerate and poorly led MPA and a sizeable contingent of out and out racists who are chafing at being led by an African American director.

We can expect instability at MPD.   At this point I see little benefit in stirring the pot at MPD.    We’ve stirred.   Stirring done.

At this point we need to be concerned that the police will revert to form and lash out at civilians and activists.  We suggest extreme care in interactions with police as we await the verdict from the trial.  We have no need to provoke further reactions from MPD.   We’ve already unleashed the nuclear option.

Political Reaction

Strickland’s administration has not been watching the backs of their police.  He has been declining to comment on the sub-judice proceedings.   We expect this to continue.

In the meantime, the hitherto solid eight or nine vote pro-police Council block is already showing signs of fragmenting.  Joe Brown and Edmund Ford are term limited and won’t need to expend political capital on defending the police.

Berlin Boyd is up for re-election.   He has been at odds with the Kemp Conrad knee-jerk brand of police support, voting against Conrad in the August 2016 marijuana ordinance.  Boyd knows that he needs to put some distance between himself and the law and order lobby.   He’s been reaching out to certain activists with some truly strange proposals.

Jamita Swearengen, as the new chairman of the Public Safety Committee, has been conventionally pro-police, generally following the MPD’s COP community policing line.   She made a speech at CLERB extolling Blue Crush and the deployment of 490 new spycams, which City Council approved a budget of $1.5M for on July 10th.

Patrice Robinson has not been saying a lot about policing.

Of the white Council members, all part of the Caissa group, the more extreme police fans like Kemp Conrad and Reid Hedgepeth, with Bill Morrison, are term limited.   We might see some posturing from them.  Ford Canale remains a cypher, although he rang the Public Safety bell in his August election campaign, apparently with less effect than his predecessor.

We don’t see much incentive for Council members to expend political capital on defending police prerogatives.   In fact, we think some of the previous pro-police coalition, especially Berlin Boyd, are already maneuvering to create some advantage for themselves.

Policy Changes

Activists have ling sought a strengthening of CLERB powers.   CLERB needs subpoena power, and the ability to make binding recommendations for disciplinary actions and policy and procedure changes.    Look to Memphis United, fresh from Paul Garner’s performance on the witness stand, to be making proposals.   In addition, it appears that the administration has successfully sabotaged the ability of CLERB to post documents on its own website and on the City archive site.

It’s hard not to see the canny Garner taking advantage of MPD’s predicament.

Police Director

Mike Rallings, as the officer who presided over the decline in MPD political interference, and because of his unconvincing defense of his policies on the stand, is damaged goods.   He has been left dangling by his political masters.   There is no question that he can survive past the election of the next mayor in 2019.   He either takes control of his fate and resigns, or the political upheaval that now starts will result in his firing.

Rallings has been fully vested in his MPD pension plan for about a year.

It seems very clear that a new director can’t come from the culturally compromised MPD.    The next Police Director must be chosen on the basis of a proven record of community policing.   The internal candidates who have been preened as Ralling’s successor  are infected with the racial disease that infects the force and will be rejected.

Our suggestions for police director include Anne Kirkpatrick, Oakland CA police chief.   She applied for the job in 2016.  Another is John S Thompson, Camden NJ police chief.

The 2019 City elections

The current mayor and most of City Council were elected in 2015 with dog-whistle campaigns, evoking public safety with racial coding to get elected.   The dog whistle was already losing its effectiveness.   J Ford Canale blew the dog whistle in the Super 9-2 election and his vote was down 25% on Philip Spinosa’s 2015 performance.   David Lenoir used the dog whistle in the County Mayor election and was convincingly defeated by Lee Harris.

Incumbents will be forced to run on other issues.   Insurgent candidates will focus on poverty, economics and policing, where incumbents have a dreadful record.   Strickland has not been brilliant at the basics.   The Caissa Seven have been exposed as the next best thing to a political conspiracy.

Expect a lot of surprises as incumbents and challengers jockey for position and make economic arguments.   Expect opponents to rally around retaining IRV in the December referenda, and issues like EDGE, economic development, energy policy, CLERB, policing and poverty to be well aired in the election runup.

Summary

Policing has been the lynch-pin of Memphis politics, especially in the last election cycle.  The pin has been pulled from this grenade.

People need to be very careful out in the streets.

In the halls of power, expect surprises.  2019 will be fought and won on real policies, not the stalking horses of yore.

 

 

 

 

 

The ACLU lawsuit data: answered questions.

Memphis City and the ACLU have, in the last week, released a huge trove of documents relating to the A-list lawsuit.

The UK-based The Guardian today covered the story, as has Esquire magazine and Citylab.  Our local crowdsourcers have only begun to dig in the paperwork, and we are certain that the material will fuel our researches for years to come, but a few vital facts have emerged.

Geofeedia replacement social media “collator”  NC4.

surveillance13n-2-webProbably one of the most significant finding to date is the identification of the Geofeedia replacement.   The ACLU had been after this product as the social media spy tool of choice until the social media powerhouses cut off its data feed in October 2016.  The new replacement is NC4, which was revealed in the new a-list documents, we think for the first time.  All we can find is this PRnewswire piece which was probably paid for by NC4.com as part of its PR aimed at local LE departments.

This alone means that we are already seeing dividends from the ACLU case, before it is even heard.

Activist counter-intel successes.

TN-Rolling-Block-Party-Fedex_tennesseean
Rolling Block Party at Fedex:  4/23/2018 Keedran on the car.

 

Almost as interesting, which squares with what we already knew from our previous blog about CCC’s counter-intel operations, is the fact that LE responses have been repeatedly been triggered by fake news planted by people close to CCC.   Our blog uses Open Record information to document how fake news about an attempt on the Bridge escalated all the way to the top of State LE and to FBI.   That incident appears to have escalated police response to protests, including the arrest of protesters on April 3rd by a snatch squad from the MPD Multi-Agency Gang Unit’s OCU (Organized Crime Unit).   It was a pre-emption intended to abort a 6:30 bogus Bridge occupation.   The OCU is all over the ACLU documents.      The take-away from this is that information gleaned by MPD and TBI’s CIU from social media is even less reliable than the average social media fake news.

LE bites on fake intel, misses the real information.

Bruce_Kramer
Bruce Kramer, longtime ACLU attorney

Also revealed, something we also suspected from our blog:  Not only is State LE liable to fly off the handle and escalate fake news to the top levels of local, State and Federal LE, but they have been doing a very poor job of eliciting the real intel they seek.

Our CCC story reveals that the unknown operational security measures CCC used to safely transmit the real April 3rd itinerary are working.  The unadvertised first stop of the Rolling Block Party arrived at FedEx to find no police presence, and the police made the scene in a time span appropriate to a 911 dispatch.   So, not only is the police intel gathering catching all the fake news, it is missing the real intel they are after.

Here’s the Daily Kos‘ Gary Moore on the April 3 arrests.

MPD gets vindictive from intel defeat.

mlk50_popoFrustration at being totally confounded by this poorly financed, rag-tag group of activists may have led to Keedran Frankin‘s July 6th arrest, and the planting of evidence in his car.  This arrest was allegedly in a traffic stop done by OCU, which is not exactly their beat.

Limitations of MPD’s social media spying.

The strange story of “Bob Smith’s” bogus social media account is also revealed.   We had feared that MPD’s Real Time Crime Center had the ability to penetrate the end-to-end encryption used by Facebook.   However, it appears that MPD was only able to view private data on Facebook to which their fake account, Bob Smith, had ‘friended’ itself.   All the information in the earliest document released by the city suggests that only activists friended by Bob Smith could be accessed by MPD.   In particular, Facebook Private Messages and secret groups which did not include Bob Smith were safe from spying.

We say this with a caveat: private Facebook stuff could be revealed via NSA decryption or by the issuance of a FICA court order, which does not require much in the way of probable cause.   As far as I know, CCC used different means to organize the Rolling Block Party, and I don’t want to know what it was.   CCC keeps ahead of LE spying by eternal vigilance and strict operational security.

BobSmith
Photo: Facebook

I was personally targeted by Bob Smith and the information used to smear me, as searches for “Fergus” and “Nolan” separately will reveal.   In particular, my arrest on Memorial Day 2016 was presented to be because I advocated lawbreaking due to entrapment by Bob Smith as a deliberate act by MPD, which I know to be untrue.   In addition, the story of my uncovering the A-list which I documented in this first party  eye witness account is smeared by a bogus allegation of a fanciful meeting I was supposed to have with a County employee, who is standing for election this week.    I promised I would not out this person until after the election, but this MPD cover story did not surface until after my A-list story needed to be discredited, and is at variance with my contemporary eye witness account.   My story did not change.  Theirs did.

2015-10-fusioncenter-616x369In other news: Office of Homeland Security identified.

At MemphisTruth.org, we have been looking for the MPD’s Office of Homeland Security.   It turns out to be two officers, Sergeant Tim Reynolds, promoted this April but identified in the documents as Detective, Sergeant and Lieutenant, and as Police Officer II in the current City salaries list.   Also Sgt. Edwin Cornwell.

The Office of Homeland Security is part of MPD Special Operations, housed in the Special Operations division, which also houses the Real Time Crime Center which does most of MPD’s electronic spookery.

The ACLU papers will give and give.

 

Keedran Franklin arrested: Full Briefing

suited
Keedran Franklin

UPDATED:  see last section for updates from 7/9 and 7/11/2018.

 

On the evening of Friday 6th July, 2018, Keedran Franklin was arrested by Organized Crime Unit detectives.  OCU is part of the Multi-agency Gang Unit (MGU) which is a joint operation of MPD and the Sheriff’s Dept.

En route from Midtown to his south-east Memphis home, Keedran stopped at a friend’s house near Sharpe Ave. and Robin Hood Lane, and pulled in to a nearby driveway to turn around.  Two police vehicles blocked him in the driveway with their dome-lights on, and two detectives, probably OCU (Organized Crime Unit) emerged.

The story is taken up in the Commercial Appeal, Tri-State Defender and the Daily Kos.

 

TNT_elbow_cut_Screen_Shot_2018-07-08_at_12.54.19_AM
Keedran Franklin displays lacerations after his 7/7/2018 release from 201 Poplar.

Franklin got out of his car and one of the police who had blocked the driveway lunged at him with handcuffs, injuring his left elbow and right wrist and arm.

One of the OCU police told him “You’re lucky, bitch, we was going to do you.”

Franklin was afterwards taken to the ER, where a dressing was applied to his left elbow and he was treated for cuts and bruising on his right wrist and arm.

While Franklin was being taken down, up to 20 additional OCU police arrived on the scene.

The Bust

The police claimed they smelled marijuana and used this as a probable-cause excuse to search his vehicle.  This is a classic MPD move for turning a profiled traffic stop into a 4th amendment evasion and an arrest.   It’s a large part of the reason why black men are arrested at three and a half times the rate of white men.

Franklin was cuffed and detained at the scene while officers searched his car.  They found nothing.  Later a canine unit arrived on the scene and a dog sniffed the car.  At that point, 114.7 grams of marijuana and 19 grams of psilocybin mushrooms were found “somewhere around the back seat”.

The substances were planted in his vehicle by MPD.

Franklin was transported to 201 Poplar, with a detour to the ER for treatment of his injuries.

Incidentally, MGU and OGU officers don’t wear body cams and TNT did not get his phone out before being cuffed, so we don’t expect video of the arrest.

The Charges

charges
Screen shot from Shelby County Criminal Court records

In the System

TNT_smiles_after_release_Screen_Shot_2018-07-08_at_12.37.30_AM
Keedran Franklin is greeted by adoring crowds at 201 Poplar after his midnight Saturday release.

The case number is 18016596.  Keedran was booked on Friday and an arrest affidavit sworn, although it is not yet on file in the County system.   Bail was set at $3000 via a video arraignment Saturday morning, and Franklin was released a few minutes before midnight on Saturday.  His arraignment happened at 08:30 Monday morning in front of Judge Tim Dwyer.

CCC

Franklin is a founder member of Memphis Coalition of Concerned Citizens, an activist group which arise after the 2016 Bridge protest.  CCC has at least thirty affiliated groups and has created C3 Community Cooperative, an urban gardening project.  CCC runs regular Books and Breakfast events and has done things like distribute food and free movie tickets among the poor.

mlk50_popo
OCU officers at Franklin’s previous arrest on April 3rd.

Our April blog, about C3’s hoaxes played on Law Enforcement, details the events that led up to Franklin’s previous misdemeanor arrest, also at the hands of OCU.   Franklin’s 4/3/2018 arrest is thought to be a snatch squad action designed to remove Franklin and other CCC leaders and prevent a faux-scheduled occupation of the bridge at 6:30 that evening.

Fake information had been released about the Bridge occupation which we tracked all the way up to the  Tennessee Homeland Security commissioner.   This was the most recent of a long list of CCC feints and surprises for law enforcement.   Tenn. Highway Patrol had stationed 50 troopers at the Memphis Welcome Center on 7/9/2017 while CCC was holding a one year anniversary of the 2016 Bridge occupation.   The Hernando de Soto bridge is the achilles heel of Tennessee law enforcement.

The Bridge, once more.

startled_fixed
Keedran Franklin, at Health Sciences Park, August 12th 2017

This weekend, word had again gotten out that CCC was planning another Bridge occupation on Saturday July 8th at noon.  We’ll put in new ORRs on Monday to see what MPD and the Fusion Centers have been saying.   The rising frustration among LE at CCC’s ability to ring the changes on protest locations has become very apparent.

The real event planned for Saturday was a potluck at First Congregational Church on Cooper.

Was the OCU action in arresting Franklin another pre-emptive strike designed to remove the leadership and “prevent” another Bridge occupation?  Did the call to “rid me of this turbulent priest” come from the highest levels of MPD and the State?

Cover-up at the CA?

tnt_headline_crop
CA front page, 7/8/2018

This is perhaps the strangest event of the weekend.  The CA had published Franklin’s arrest story on-line at about 2 PM Saturday, and this headline appeared on the front page in Sunday’s edition.   But the print edition’s page 4 did not carry the story, no anywhere else in the paper.

Is the fix in.   Did the CA pull the print version of the story as a favor for someone in the City or MPD.  The story was finally published on Monday 9th.

UPDATE 7/9/2018:  Mark Russell, Executive Editor of the CA, emailed me to day that the Sunday omission was inadvertent “It appears that the wrong page A-4 was picked up the press room and that story did not run as planned.”   Human error.

We plan to update this story as the facts come in.

Update 7/11/2018:   TNT’s case is scheduled for preliminary hearing on 7/23/2018.  Veteran duo of civil rights attorneys Scott and Bruce Kramer are working on his case.

Arrest Affidavit (also available as PDF)

affid_1.jpg

affid_2_warrant—concluded—